A Possible Path to Citizenship? The Latest Actions in Congress
A new hope for Dreamers arose recently as the House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect Dreamers and place them on a path to citizenship. The bill, called The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 passed in the House 237-187, but still needs to be passed in the Senate.
So what does the Act do, and what does this mean for undocumented immigrants?
Essentially it affects two groups of people- Dreamers, and those under Temporary Protected Status (TPS)- in all, over two million people.
Since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ended in 2017, Dreamers have been in limbo waiting to see how Congress acts. Following the passage of this Act, Dreamers would be granted ten years of legal residence if certain requirements are met, and would be able to receive permanent residence (i.e., green cards) after completing at least two years of military service or higher education, or working for three years. The Act emphasizes the importance of education for Dreamers, and ultimately sets Dreamers on a path for citizenship. Additionally, the Act establishes a streamlined process for those who have already obtained DACA status and who meet the conditions for renewal.
For those waiting to know the future of their Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Deportations, the Act also gives hope. TPS has allowed people from certain nations affected by war or natural disasters to remain in the United States. There is a smaller group of Liberians who have received “deferred enforced departure” that would also come under the Act. For both of these types of immigrant groups, applications for green cards would be immediately available if the applicant has been in the country for at least three years, possessed status since at least September 2016, and passed background checks. The even greater news? After five years, people in both groups could apply for citizenship!
For now, it’s a bit of a waiting game- the bill has been put on the Senate Legislative Calendar.