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Immigration bills get Thursday vote but still face hurdles in becoming law

Legislation addresses dreamers and a pathway to citizenship
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Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 16:05:11-04

WASHINGTON — Both Monica Camacho Perez and Norma Irene Alvarez, dreamers who we recently met, believe the time for action is now.

"I was brought here at the age of 7," Perez, a DACA recipient who works in Baltimore's school system, said.

"I've been told to go back and dream," Alvarez said from a picnic table in El Paso, Texas.

Even though the women are thousands of miles away from each other, their stories are similar. Both came to the United States as a child by crossing the border illegally.

Both were granted protections under the DACA program by President Barack Obama. Both were thrown into limbo under President Donald Trump. Now, both want action by President Joe Biden.

"I want my green card," Alvarez said.

"I’m thankful for DACA, but we want a pathway to citizenship," Perez said.

UPCOMING VOTES

Congress will vote on the The Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act on Thursday. If signed into law, both would represent historic legislation.

The Dream and Promise Act would create a pathway to citizenship for Alvarez and Perez. While they would initially be extended protected status, after ten years, full citizenship would be offered.

A clean criminal record and a GED would be required.

The Farm Workforce and Modernization Act would not apply to the women, but it would apply to thousands of farm workers around the United States. It would allow immigrants who work on farms to become a protected class. As long as they work on a farm for 100 days a year, after four years green cards would be extended.

CHALLENGE IN BECOMING LAW

While both pieces of legislation are expected to pass the House of Representatives, actually becoming law remains a challenge. Sixty senators would need to support the legislation and right now, the votes are not there for passage.

The issue is made more complicated by the emerging situation on the border with a surge in migrants attempting to cross in recent weeks.

The number of immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. last month was up 28% from January.

It is up 174% from February 2020. While many adults are sent back, unaccompanied children stay in government facilities.