Action #1: It’s been two years. Let’s get it done!
UPDATE: H.R. 6 JUST PASSED THE HOUSE ON 3/18! CAll and EMAIL scripts have been adjusted for senators.
We first published this post on March 14, 2019, almost exactly two years ago. Since then, the public’s support for Dreamers has continued to grow. Nancy Pelosi stated in 2020 – “Eighty percent of the American people support our Dreamers.” The Pew Research Center puts it at 3 out of 4. Let’s get this done.
H.R. 6 provides permanent protection and a path to citizenship to a possible 4,438,000 DREAMers, individuals eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and legal DREAMers eligible for permanent residence. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, this version’s author, states: “This legislation would enable millions of undocumented young people to fulfill their God-given potential, give back to their communities, and ultimately obtain U.S. citizenship. It would also serve our national interest by reducing the deficit, contributing to our country’s economic growth, and enabling our armed services to meet their recruiting goals. I have introduced the newest version of this bill as HR 6, The Dream and Promise Act, which includes protections and a path to citizenship not just for Dreamers, but for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries as well.”
However, it can be made even better. Nicole Austin-Hillery, executive director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated “… the bill contains harsh and unnecessary provisions based on youth offenses that would amplify the racial injustices in the criminal legal system and make the bill less inclusive…” Their coalition sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee urging them to remove these criminalization bars. Said Austin-Hillery: “Congress should be focused on ensuring all immigrant youth who have only known the United States as home no longer have to live in fear of an uncertain future. The juvenile justice system recognizes that young people are different than adults and treats them as such. We urge Congress to do the same.” [Resources: (HRW/NJJ&DPC/Sentencing Project/& more letter) (HRW/Indivisible/& more letter)(National Immigration Project report lists criminalization bars)(Description of immigration legislation bills here]
Minimal script – call: I’m calling from [zip code] to ask Sen. [___] to support H.R. 6 – The “American Dream and Promise Act of 2021.” I’m also asking that in the interests of racial justice, [he/she] eliminate criminalization bars and other barriers to relief from this legislation, as they are counter to the purpose of the Dream and Promise Act, which is to protect ALL immigrant youth from deportation.
Minimal script – email: I am writing to ask Sen. [___] to eliminate the criminalization bars and other barriers to relief from the text of H.R.6, the “American Dream and Promise Act,” which would disqualify a disproportionate number of people of color from a path to citizenship based on a record of offenses committed as children. Neither the US Citizenship Act, proposed by the administration of President Joe Biden, and Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin’s version of the Dream Act contain such harsh provisions.
Specifically, Human Rights Watch asks that Congress strike measures from the bill giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) discretion to prevent immigrant youth from attaining US citizenship based on dispositions in juvenile court matters, and alleged or actual gang affiliation. These provisions impose a lifelong consequence for actions committed by children, even though US and human rights law recognize that they should be treated differently, being less culpable and uniquely capable of rehabilitation. Barriers compound the harm caused to youth already targeted by overly harsh laws and often abusive practices in the racist criminal and juvenile legal systems in the United States.
H.R.6 can be adjusted to help those who need its protection the most. If Rep. [___] is unfamiliar with these issues, I’ve listed below useful resources and explainers.
- National Immigration Project report on criminalization bars: https://tinyurl.com/NIP-Criminalization
- Letter to Judiciary Committee here. tinyurl.com/Stop-Bans
- Letter to Judiciary Committee here. https://tinyurl.com/DACA-Justice
- Keeping our Eyes on the Prize: NJFON Statement on the Dream & Promise Act here. tinyurl.com/NJFON-Dream-and-Promise-Act
Thank you for your help in ensuring all immigrant youth who have only known the United States as home no longer have to live in fear of an uncertain future.
- Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
- and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
- Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
Action #2: Tweet at Democratic leadership
- Dianne Feinstein @SenFeinstein
- Alex Padilla @SenAlexPadilla
- Chuck Schumer @SenSchumer
- Suggested text:
- Citizenship for some immigrants cannot come at the expense of Black and brown people. @RepZoeLofgren & @RepRoybalAllard – cut the criminalization bars from the Dream & Promise Act: bit.ly/NoMoreExclusions #NoMoreExclusions
- We need bold action on immigration, not further criminalization. People should not be excluded from relief just because they’ve had contact with the racist criminal legal system. No criminalization bars in the Dream & Promise Act #NoMoreExclusions
- It’s 2021. No more legislation that divides people into “good” and “bad” immigrants. [Insert Congressmember’s handle] – cut the criminalization bars from the Dream & Promise Act. bit.ly/NoMoreExclusions #NoMoreExclusions
- Immigration relief should not be denied because of contact with a racist criminal legal system that targets Black and brown people. No criminalization bars in the Dream & Promise Act. bit.ly/NoMoreExclusionsToolkit #NoMoreExclusions
- Immigrant communities need legalization, not criminalization and perpetual punishment. The criminalization bars in the Dream & Promise Act will expand ICE’s deportation pipeline, not shrink it. bit.ly/NoMoreExclusions #NoMoreExclusions.
MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona states: “The Dream and Promise Act is a breath of fresh air. It sends a strong message to Dreamers and TPS and DED holders: We know this is your home. We know how much you contribute to this nation – and we stand behind you.”
Immigration makes our country safer, stronger and more prosperous. Everyone of us whose ancestors came here to find a better life for themselves and their families continues to owe a debt to help those who follow. We are fortunate to have over 200,000 DACA recipients working to protect the health and safety of Americans as the country confronts COVID-19.
To make things complicated and perhaps more passable, immigration/citizenship legislation has been divided into several bills, including H.R. 6 – The American Dream and Promise Act, H.R. 1603 – The “Farm Workforce Moderization Act”, and Biden’s own US Citizenship Act of 2021. The email script above describes a critical difference in regards to criminalization bars in the various bills regarding youth.
Some useful charts:
(Migration Policy Institute) “The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3, 2021 could make a maximum of 4,438,000 DREAMers, individuals eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and legal DREAMers eligible for permanent residence, according to Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates. For more on other unauthorized immigrant populations that are the subject of legalization discussions, see Back on the Table: U.S. Legalization and the Unauthorized Immigrant Groups that Could Factor in the Debate.“
DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Dreamers are young people who were brought to the U.S. as children. This is their home. In 2010, House Democrats passed the DREAM Act to provide a pathway to citizenship, but the Senate GOP refused to take up and pass the bill. In 2012, President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in June 2012 which required Dreamers to submit applications to immigration authorities. In exchange, they received protection from deportation and a work permit, allowing these young people to enroll in higher education; work as teachers, paramedics, and other professional careers; serve in the military; buy homes; and contribute to their communities and the economy.
House Republicans took control of the House in January 2011, and for eight years did nothing to reform our broken immigration system. In 2017, President Trump terminated the DACA program, upending the lives of 800,000 Dreamers who call this country their home. Dreamers contribute to our economy: deporting Dreamers could mean 1,716 jobs lost per day and 300,000 people eliminated from the work force. Removing DACA recipients from the workforce will cost us $460.3 billion in GDP loss over a decade. It will cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs, and would cut contributions to Medicare and Social Security by $39.3 billion over a decade. Moreover, DACA recipients drive economic growth in their communities, with nearly 6% of DACA recipients having launched businesses, many employing American citizens. Further, almost 55% of DACA recipients purchased a vehicle, and more than one in ten have purchased their first home.
UPDATE: (CATO) “Unlike the Dream Act and last Congress’s version of H.R. 6, however, this year’s version extends the path to citizenship to “legal dreamers,” foreign-born children of temporary workers who can grow up in this country in temporary status that they lose at age 21. Previously, H.R. 6 had only allowed someone who was “inadmissible or deportable” to qualify unless they were in Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a temporary status mostly for immigrants without any other legal status. But the new American Dream and Promise Act greatly reduces this unfair discrimination against legal residents. The new language will allow anyone who “is the son or daughter of an alien admitted as a nonimmigrant” under the E-1, E-2, H-1B, and L-1 temporary work visa programs.”
DREAMers, would have to apply for “conditional permanent residency,” which would only be granted under certain conditions:
- They would have had to arrive in the US before turning 18 and been in the US for at least four years.
- They would need a relatively clean record — a felony conviction or three separate misdemeanors involving total jail time of 90 days would be disqualifying.
- They would need a high school diploma or GED, or be enrolled in a program to get either one.
- They would need to pass a background check and other eligibility requirements.
TPS – Temporary Protected Status
(Fact sheet here. ) TPS was first created by Congress in 1990. It offers an estimated 437,000 migrants from 10 countries protected status after fleeing natural disasters and violent conflicts in their home nations. TPS holders cannot confer their immigration status to family members abroad nor use their TPS as a basis for sponsorship, regardless of the crises they may face, and they cannot access most federal public benefits. Since 2017, President Trump rolled back this program, sending immigrants back to their home countries without evidence that there have been concrete improvements in those countries.
- On November 6, 2017, President Trump ended TPS for 2,500 Nicaraguans.
- On November 20, 2017, President Trump terminated TPS for 60,000 Haitians.
- On January 8, 2018, President Trump ended TPS for 200,000 Salvadorians.
- On May 4, 2018, President Trump ended TPS for 57,000 Hondurans.
TPS holders are long-term, integrated members of communities across the United States. On average, recipients from Honduras have lived in the United States for 22 years, recipients from El Salvador an average of 21 years, and recipients from Haiti an average of 13 years. Nearly one-third of households with Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS holders have mortgages. TPS holders have labor force participation rates over 80%, and are on track to contribute $164 billion to national GDP over the next decade. The cost of rolling back TPS is projected to reach billions of dollars in GDP over the next decade, along with a $1 billion in turnaround.
UPDATE: 3/1/21 “Immigrants who have time-limited permission to live and work in the United States under a program known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) could be granted a pathway to citizenship under legislation proposed by President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats.
About 400,000 U.S. immigrants from 10 countries currently have TPS, which offers a reprieve from deportation for those who fled designated nations because of war, hurricanes, earthquakes or other extraordinary conditions that could make it dangerous for them to live there. Federal immigration officials may grant TPS status to immigrants for up to 18 months initially based on conditions in their home countries and may repeatedly extend eligibility if dangerous conditions persist.“
UPDATE 3/8/21: “The Biden administration on Monday announced it would grant temporary protected status to Venezuelan exiles, fulfilling a campaign promise to allow them to live and work legally in the U.S.
The TPS designation offers legal protections for 18 months to Venezuelans fleeing the humanitarian crisis brought on by Nicolás Maduro’s government. It comes after years of Democrats and Florida Republicans pushing for granting TPS to Venezuelans, while former President Donald Trump declined to do so and, instead, secretly deported Venezuelans despite safety concerns.” The order gives about 300,000 Venezuelans in the U.S. the right to apply to live and work in the country.
DED – Deferred Enforced Departure
(Fact sheet here.) DED is a protected status authorized by the President. In 1991, Liberians received TPS status as a result of a seven-year civil war. Their TPS status was extended under both Republican and Democratic presidents until it expired in 2007. President George W. Bush used DED to extend their protection.
However, on March 27, 2018, President Trump removed DED status for 4,000 Liberians, sending them to a country they have not lived in for more than a decade and that is still recovering from the Ebola crisis.
UPDATE 1/20/21: Biden reinstated Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians through June 30, 2022.