Unified support from Democrats ensured the House passed a bill to create a pathway to citizenship for 2.5 million immigrants.
The House of Representatives passed one of the most sweeping immigration bills in a generation on Tuesday afternoon, overcoming steep opposition from Republicans.
By a 237-187 vote, the House passed H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act. Every Democrat voted in favor of the bill, while only 7 Republicans did. The remaining 187 Republicans voted no.
As the votes were being cast, Democrats turned and applauded visitors in the gallery watching the vote, and started chanting, "Si se puede," which translates to "Yes we can." The gallery was full of supporters of the Dream and Promise Act.
The legislation provides permanent legal protections to several groups of immigrants, including Dreamers. Dreamers are young Americans who were brought to this country by their parents when they were children, and many know no other home. In 2012, President Obama created the DACA program to protect Dreamers, a policy Trump is determined to overturn.
Trump's attempts to end DACA have been stalled in court battles, and this legislation would both protect their legal status and create a pathway so Dreamers could become citizens.
In addition to Dreamers, the bill would allow immigrants who have temporary humanitarian protections in the U.S. to stay. These immigrants, who have either Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) status, are mainly from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador, according to Vox.
The Dream and Promise Act would remove the legal limbo from all these immigrants, and lays out steps that could be taken for them to apply for a green card and then eventually citizenship. In total, the legislation would impact about 2.5 million immigrants, making it one of the most consequential immigration bills since the mid-1980s.
"Dreamers and TPS holders are our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. For many, our country is the only place they know," Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) said shortly before the bill passed. "The Dream and Promise Act fulfills the promise that if you work hard and give back to your community you can thrive here.
Before opposing the bill, Republicans used a procedure known as a "Motion to Recommit" (MTR) in an attempt to change the language of the bill. Republicans claimed the change would prevent gang members from receiving a green card. However, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) rebutted the argument, noting that language in the bill already addresses the issue of gang activity. The MTR was roundly defeated.
Trump has led Republicans down an increasingly anti-immigrant path, relying on racist rhetoric and policy to appeal to the fringe of the GOP base. But the tactic did not work in the 2018 midterms, with Americans across the country rejecting Republicans and returning control of the House to Democrats.
Whereas Trump and Republicans attack immigrants, the Democrats rallied behind a bill to welcome and embrace immigrants.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.