Bill includes provision for “legal dreamers,” aged out children of H-1B and other foreign workers.
The US House has overwhelmingly passed a bill creating a process for undocumented immigrants brought to America as children — known as “DREAMers” — to earn permanent resident status and eventual citizenship.
The American Dream and Promise Act, which previously passed in the House in 2019, also includes a path to citizenship for people with temporary protected status and beneficiaries of deferred enforced departure.
Welcoming the passage of the bill, President Joe Biden described it as a critical first step in reforming the country’s immigration system.
“I support this bill, and commend the House of Representatives for passing this important legislation,” he said noting it will provide much-needed relief to TPS holders and dreamers, young people who came here as children and know no other country.
There are over 650,000 Dreamers, including about 5,000 South Asians among 11 million undocumented immigrants, about half a million of them from India, according to a policy document issued by the Biden campaign last November.
Unlike previous legislation, the new bill also provides a path for “legal dreamers,” the foreign-born children of many non-immigrant workers, including those on H-1B, who lose their legal status on reaching 21 years of age.
“We’re proud to employ Dreamers at Google,” Sundar Pichai, Indian American CEO of the search engine giant and its parent Alphabet tweeted.
“Glad to see the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act to ensure they can stay in the US — another positive step forward in enacting comprehensive immigration reform!”
“Millions in this country live in fear, holding their breaths every day, that they could be deported to faraway lands that are not their homes,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Thursday.
“Because America is their home. For Dreamers, it has been their home since their earliest days. And today, this House is going to take action – as we did last Congress – to help them breathe easier.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the original sponsor of the Dream Act, said a legislative solution is long overdue for Dreamers.
“If the Senate is able to join the House in passing these bipartisan bills, we would be able to enact the most significant immigration legislation in more than 30 years. I hope we seize this moment,” he said.
In 2012, then President Barack Obama issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM ACT) failed to pass in Congress several times.
The young people impacted by the DACA and the DREAM Act are often referred to as “Dreamers”.