The House voted Thursday to unlatch a gateway to citizenship for young Dreamers, migrant farm workers and immigrants who’ve fled war or natural disasters, giving Democrats wins within the year’s first votes on a problem that faces an uphill climb within the Senate.On a near party-line 228-197 vote, lawmakers approved one bill offering status to around 2 million Dreamers, delivered to the U.S. illegally as children, and many thousands of migrants admitted for humanitarian reasons from a dozen troubled countries.
They then voted 247-174 for a second measure creating similar protections for 1 million farm workers who have worked within the U.S. illegally. the govt estimates they comprise half the nation’s agricultural laborers.In a statement after the votes, President Joe Biden called the action a “critical first step” toward a more sweeping overhaul he’s proposed. He said he wants to figure with Congress toward “building a 21st century immigration system that's grounded in dignity, safety, and fairness, and eventually enacts the future solutions we'd like to make an orderly and humane immigration system.”
Both bills largely hit a wall of opposition from Republicans insistent that any immigration legislation bolster security at the Mexican border, which waves of migrants have tried breaching in recent weeks. The GOP has accused congressional Democrats of ignoring that problem and Biden of fueling it by erasing former President Donald Trump’s restrictive policies, albeit that surge began while Trump was still in office.
While Dreamers win wide public support and migrant farm workers are a backbone of the agriculture industry, both House bills face gloomy prospects within the evenly split Senate. That chamber’s 50 Democrats will need a minimum of 10 GOP supporters to interrupt Republican filibusters.
The outlook was even grimmer for Biden’s more ambitious goal of legislation making citizenship possible for all 11 million immigrants within the U.S. illegally, easing visa restrictions, improving border security technology and spending billions in Central America to ease problems that prompt people to go away .
Nine House Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for the Dreamers measure but 30 GOP lawmakers backed the farm workers bill, giving it a more bipartisan hue.
Congress has long deadlocked over immigration, which again seems headed toward becoming political ammunition. Republicans could use it to rally conservative voters in upcoming elections, while Democrats could add it to a stack of House-passed measures languishing within the Senate to create support for abolishing that chamber’s bill-killing filibusters.Democrats said their measures were aimed not at border security but at immigrants who deserve help.
“They’re such a lot of our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said of Dreamers, who like many immigrants have held frontline jobs during the pandemic. “These immigrant communities strengthen, enrich and ennoble our nation, and that they must be allowed to remain .”Neither House measure would directly affect those trying to enter from Mexico. Republicans criticized them anyway for lacking border security provisions and used the talk to lambast Biden, who’s ridden a wave of recognition since taking office and winning a huge COVID-19 relief package.“It may be a Biden border crisis, and it's spinning out of control,” said House legislator Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
While the amount of migrants caught trying to cross the border from Mexico has been rising since last April, the 100,441 encountered last month was the very best figure since March 2019. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said the amount is tracking toward a 20-year high.
In another measure of the matter , around 14,000 children and teenagers are in Customs and Border Protection custody or Health and Human Services Department shelters while officials find relatives or sponsors to require them, Biden administration officials told reporters.
Democrats were making that problem worse, Republicans said, with bills they said entice more immigrants to sneak into the U.S. and supply amnesty to immigrants who break laws to urge here.
“We don’t know who these people are, we don’t know what their intentions are,” Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., said of immigrant farm workers who might seek status . He added, “It’s frightening, it’s irresponsible, it’s endangering American lives.”During earlier debate on the Dreamers’ bill, Democrats said Republicans were going too far.
“Sometimes I substitute this chamber and that i desire I’m within the Twilight Zone, taking note of variety of my Republican colleagues espouse supremacist ideology to denigrate our Dreamers,” said Rep. Mondaire Jones, D-N.Y.Maine Rep. Jared Golden’s vote against the farm workers measure made him the sole Democrat to oppose either bill.
The House approved Dreamer and farmhand bills in 2019 by similar partisan margins, and both died in what was a Republican-run Senate. Trump, who as president constricted legal and illegal immigration, would have signed neither.
Biden has suspended work on Trump’s wall along the Mexican border, ended his separation of young children from migrant families and allowed apprehended minors to remain within the U.S. as officials decide if they will legally remain. He has also turned away most single adults and families.
The Dreamer bill would grant conditional status for 10 years to several immigrants up to age 18 who were brought into the U.S. illegally before this year. They’d need to meet education and other requirements.
To attain legal permanent residence, or a positive identification , they’d need to obtain a better education degree, serve within the military or be used for a minimum of three years. Like others with green cards, they might then apply for citizenship after five years.
The measure would also grant green cards to an estimated 400,000 immigrants with temporary protected status or deferred enforced departure status, which temporarily allow people fleeing extraordinary problems into the U.S.
The other bill would let immigrant farm workers who’ve worked within the country illegally over the past two years get certified agriculture worker status. that might allow them to , their spouses and youngsters remain within the U.S. for renewable 5 1/2-year periods.To earn green cards, they’d need to pay a $1,000 fine and workout to a further eight years, counting on how long they’ve already held farm jobs.
The legislation would cap wage increases, streamline the H-2A visa process for legal immigrant farm workers and introduce a compulsory system for electronically verifying the status of agriculture laborers.