Earlier today, Nevada’s own Reps. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) and Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) teamed up with several other House Democrats formally introduced HR 6, also known as the DREAM and Promise Act. This new bill provides a path to citizenship for DREAMers, along with renewing protection for refugees who’ve depended upon TPS and DED to maintain legal residency here in the U.S.
So what’s in this new DREAM Act? And with the White House almost certainly opposed, what’s the point of introducing it now?
“There is nothing temporary about their lives here. And there’s no excuse for making families like theirs vulnerable to separation.”
– Rep. Steven Horsford
Today, Reps. Steven Horsford and Susie Lee introduced the DREAM and Promise Act alongside Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California), Nydia Velazquez (D-New York), and Yvette Clarke (D-New York). If it becomes law the DREAM and Promise Act will not only undo President Donald Trump’s attempts to revoke DACA protection for immigrants who were brought into the U.S. undocumented as children, but it also provides DREAMers a path to citizenship.
In addition, this bill addresses two categories of refugees who Trump has also targeted as part of his anti-immigrant regime: Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). DED is an administrative stay of removal the President can provide under one’s power to direct the nation’s foreign policy. TPS was established under the Immigration Act of 1990, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by then President George H.W. Bush, and it’s used to provide legal status to refugees escaping armed conflict, natural disaster, and/or other extraordinary hardships in their native countries.
In a statement Horsford declared, “This important legislation will create a path to citizenship for our dreamers and protect TPS holders, and DED recipients from being forced to leave the country they love.” He continued, “There is nothing temporary about their lives here. And there’s no excuse for making families like theirs vulnerable to separation.”
In her statement Lee said, “For most, America is the only country they know and they should be able to fully contribute to the country they love without fearing detention or deportation. I’m proud to help introduce the Dream and Promise Act to provide security and peace of mind for the tens of thousands of Nevadans and allow them to continue contributing to our state.”
The DREAM and Promise Act has a tough path forward, yet it says a lot about the politics of 2020 (and beyond).
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 12, 2019
Considering President Donald Trump’s storied relationship with anti-immigrant white nationalists, and keeping in mind the Trump administration’s goal of keeping out immigrants who come here from places Donald Trump has derided as “shithole countries”, there is virtually zero chance Trump will ever sign the DREAM and Promise Act into law. However, there are important reasons why this bill has begun moving in the U.S. House.
For one, this moves the national conversation on immigration reform beyond Trump’s tropes and onto real policies that can help real people, people like the DREAMers and the refugees I’ve spoken with here in Nevada for the last two years. As a result this further empowers immigrant rights activists to shame Republicans who’ve verbally voiced support for these immigrant communities without backing their words up with real legislation, as well as to push the Democrats who are running to defeat Trump next year to move beyond the “border security” fights of the past and embrace a more humane comprehensive immigration reform agenda. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) included immigrant rights in her economic justice platform when she visited Las Vegas last month, and Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) referred to Trump’s push to end DACA as “breaking our promise to these young people” when she was in Las Vegas earlier this month.
With House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and other Democratic leaders lining up behind the DREAM and Promise Act, the bill at least has a chance of passing the full House this year. However, the bigger deal may be that this represents a bigger promise of action and inclusion for aspiring Americans who came here in pursuit of the promise of a better life here.
Cover photo courtesy of United States Congress.