Young “Dreamer” immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children can win a path to citizenship under a bill passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday (March 18), as Democrats try to reverse former President Donald Trump’s hard-line policies.
A second measure that also passed in the U.S. House Thursday will shield about 1 million immigrant farm workers from deportation, with the eventual goal of also granting them citizenship.
The legislation coincides with Democratic President Joe Biden’s efforts to contain the number of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, many of whom are fleeing dangerous conditions in Central America. But the House proposals face an uphill battle in the Senate.
The southwest border situation hardened Republican opposition to helping Dreamers: around 1.8 million young immigrants. They made the dangerous journey on their own, with parents or hired hands, often to escape gang violence in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and other countries.
Many have spent most of their lives in the United States and have been educated in U.S. schools.
The White House backed both bills. But it also urged lawmakers to adopt broader reforms in Biden’s sweeping immigration bill introduced last month, saying this would secure the border and “address the root causes of instability and unsafe conditions causing migration from Central America.”
Democrats began pushing for Dreamer protections in 2001. But time after time, most recently in 2018, legislation sputtered in the House or Senate amid opposition from Republicans.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell panned the House efforts on Thursday, saying they would exacerbate problems at the border, further dimming prospects in that chamber, where a supermajority of at least 60 of 100 members are needed for most legislation to advance.
(Production: Mana Rabiee)