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House Rings with Rejoicing over Approval of “Path to Citizenship” Bills

On May 22, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee’s voting in favor of advancing legislation that provides a path to United States citizenship was met with shouts of joy.

Three “Path to American Citizenship” Bills Passed

This legislation would primarily clear a pathway to US citizenship for many immigrants through the following three bills:

  • The Dream Act or H.R. 2820
  • The American Promise Act or H.R. 2821
  • The Venezuela TPS Act or H.R. 549

These bills mainly involve the “Dreamers,” foreign nationals who arrived in the country as minors without proper documentation, and certain immigrants who have been granted temporary protected status. The Dreamers will be provided a way to become new citizens of the United States while some temporary protected immigrants will be given permission to seek legal permanent resident status so they can become lawful permanent residents.

Following a long debate on immigration laws, votes were cast along partisan lines. The Dream Act got 19-10; the American Promise Act, 20-9; and the Venezuela TPS Act, 20-9.

The Bills’ Back Story

The first two bills were originally parts of another bill introduced earlier in March by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was initially called the American Dream and Promise Act or H.R. 6. Democrat Representative from California, Lucille Roybal-Allard, led the sponsoring of the bill with support from 232 fellow Democrats as her co-sponsors.

As mentioned, the Dream Act is for minor immigrants who are covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA. The American Promise Act, on the other hand, is for immigrants on deferred enforced departure (DED) or temporary protected status (TPS). Meanwhile, the third bill is particularly for undocumented immigrants from Venezuela living in the US. The Venezuela TPS Act will allow them employment authorization so they can legally work in the US, as well as prevent their deportation.

Noisy jubilation met the vote counts on Wednesday, both from committee members and visitors. The committee chairman, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat representative from New York, banged his gavel to restore order, but he did it in vain.

Congressman Steve Chabot, a Republican Representative from Ohio, questioned Nadler about allowing in the committee such a demonstration, be it for or against the legislation. Nadler answered that he had banged his gavel and maintained control as much as he could.

Celebrating in Social Media

Many of the House Democrats continued their celebration on Twitter.

Nadler: “House Judiciary follows passage of the Dream Act by passing HR 2821, the Promise Act, which establishes a pathway to permanent residence for individuals covered by TPS and DED programs. An incredible achievement!” and “Just now, House Judiciary voted to pass HR 2820, the Dream Act. This vital legislation will finally provide permanent protections for Dreamers. A historic day for so many and I proudly recommend it to the House for final passage.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): And we just passed the Promise Act to ensure protections for TPS holders. Both the Dream and Promise Acts are the most progressive bills ever passed in the House! What a night!

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.): We on House Judiciary just passed the Dream Act!! More evidence that we can both investigate crimes and pass life changing legislation.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), not a committee member: This is why electing real people, people like us, makes a difference.

The Resurrection of the Dream

The DREAM Act previously met its demise in 2010 while in the U.S. Senate despite the body boasting a Democrat majority at that time. The bill needed five more votes to garner the 60 required to advance. Five Democrats opposed it while three Republicans voted for the measure.

Since September of 2017, the Trump administration has been attempting to put an end to the DACA program, but the courts didn’t allow President Trump to nullify through executive action what President Obama achieved through executive action as well.

Consulting an Immigration Attorney in New Jersey

Many people’s hopes for green cards may finally be fulfilled. If these bills apply to you and you wish to be advised on your options regarding different immigration services and the best steps for you to take in order to become citizens of the United States, call us at Andres Mejer Law to talk to an excellent and experienced New Jersey immigration lawyer.