CHN: House Approves American Dream and Promise Act; Meanwhile, Advocates Brace for Census Ruling

The House on June 4 passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R.6), a measure that would offer a path to citizenship to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers.

The bill, which passed 237 to 187, would grant Dreamers 10 years of legal residence status if they meet certain requirements. They would then receive permanent green cards after completing at least two years of higher education or military service, or after working for three years.

The measure would provide long-awaited clarity to the millions of Dreamers who for years have been caught in legal limbo. The Obama Administration granted work permits to many of them through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but President Trump called for an end of the program in late 2017. Its fate rests with the Supreme Court, which may take up the issue during its next term.

In a statement, CHN Executive Director Deborah Weinstein said the vote “was a long time coming.”

“It was made possible by the courage of Dreamers and immigrants here through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status,” she said. “They came forward to remind us that they are essential members of our communities. Fighting alongside them are their neighbors, extended families, colleagues, fellow students, congregants, and others who recognize that we cannot afford to lose them.”

CHN members heralded the vote.

“Today is an historic step for Dreamers, TPS holders, and DED recipients,” said Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “While the struggle for comprehensive immigration reform goes on, we need to protect immigrants from President Trump’s attacks now. That’s why the Catholic Sisters and activists of NETWORK were so proud to support the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act in the House. The Senate must quickly follow suit to provide a pathway to citizenship and protection from deportation for our immigrant sisters and brothers. These are valued community members with inherent dignity who must be protected.”

In a statement, UnidosUS called the vote “an urgently needed step towards protecting DACA and TPS holders, who are integral to American society.”

“We thank Congresswomen Roybal-Allard and Velazquez for shepherding this measure as well as Speaker Pelosi for her leadership. For far too long, DACA recipients and TPS holders have been forced to a life in limbo because of the cruel decisions and actions of the Trump administration. Today’s vote represents a good-faith effort from Congressional leaders to fix the problem and deliver on a measure that has the backing of the American people.

Also relating to immigration: immigrant advocates are bracing themselves for an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether the 2020 Census will include a question relating to citizenship. As has been well documented, such a question would create a massive undercount, particularly among communities of color and households with children. The court ruling could come any time between Monday, June 17 and the end of June. The Census Bureau has said that it must begin printing the Census questionnaires by the beginning of July.

Last week, the Trump Administration, responding to a congressional investigation into why the citizenship question was proposed in the first place, refused to turn over relevant documents to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, citing executive privilege.

In response, Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which is playing a lead role in opposing the citizenship question, said the Trump Administration’s action is further proof that the citizenship question was added “to depress participation in the census by communities of color.”

“Every revelation since the question was first proposed has reinforced that fact,” she said in a statement. “The Trump Administration has deployed a dizzying array of false pretexts for adding the question, ignored Census Bureau findings that the question would lead to an inaccurate count, and dismissed unmistakable evidence regarding the political motivation behind the question. Through it all, keeping vulnerable communities from accessing their duly deserved resources and representation has remained the focal point of the Administration’s efforts.”

Plaintiffs in suits against the inclusion of the citizenship question filed additional evidence of racial bias with a federal court in Maryland after it was revealed that Thomas Hofeller, a recently deceased Republican expert on gerrymandering political districts, had written reports for Republicans about the impact of a citizenship question in skewing political representation towards white non-Hispanic voters, and had been in communication with a Census Bureau staff person to share that information.

Dream Act