CLARKE CO-LEADS GROUNDBREAKING IMMIGRATION REFORM H.R. 6, THE DREAM AND PROMISE ACT AND VOTES YES ON THE FARM WORKFORCE MODERNIZATION ACT, BOTH PASS IN THE HOUSE
Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke voted to pass H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act — which she was a co-lead of, and H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Both passed in the House.
These two landmark pieces of legislation to modernize and reform our immigration system and secure permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have been, and will continue to be, key to the economic recovery of our nation. The American Dream and Promise Act provides relief to our nation’s Dreamers, as well as to many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides stability, predictability and fairness to the workers who feed America.
“As the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, I understand the need for the Dream and Promise Act, and more importantly, we need a humane and dignified 21st Century immigration System and comprehensive immigration reform. The time has come for the values of our nation to be reflected in our immigration policies. H.R. 6, offers a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and DED recipients. Without permanent protections such as those in the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, the future of these immigrants and their families – as well as the important economic contributions they make to our country – are at risk,” said Clarke.
The American Dream and Promise Act – establishes a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for Dreamers and for certain individuals who either held or were eligible for TPS or DED. The majority of these individuals have been in the United States for much of their lives, often with work authorization and temporary protections against deportation. Five years after attaining full LPR status, individuals are then eligible to apply for citizenship, a path that is supported by nearly 75 percent of the American public. H.R. 6 promotes justice and fairness for our nation’s Dreamers, and for the TPS and DED holders who fled ongoing armed conflict and other extraordinary conditions to come to this country and who have been contributing to our economy and our communities for years and are employed at high rates in industries that often struggle to find sufficient U.S. workers.
H.R. 6 is supported by numerous organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, AFL-CIO, SEIU, ACLU, United We Dream, UnidosUS, Apple, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), United Farm Workers, America’s Voice, Fwd.US, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Immigration Hub, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Forum, TPS Alliance, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Lutheran Immigration Refugee Service, UndocuBlack Network, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Bipartisan Policy Center Action, Center for American Progress, American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Social Workers, First Focus Campaign for Children, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), National Council of Jewish Women Service, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), and Employees International Union.
Overview of the Bill’s Provisions
The Dream Act: Protecting America’s Dreamers
- The Dream Act section of the legislation establishes a process for eligible Dreamers to be granted conditional lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for 10 years if they:
- Have been continuously physically present in the U.S. since January 1, 2021;
- Were age 18 or younger on the initial date of entry into the U.S.;
- Are not inadmissible on national security or criminal grounds (see section on national security and criminal bars below);
- Graduate from high school, obtain a GED or industry-recognized credential; or are in a program assisting students to obtain a high school diploma, GED or equivalent exam, or are in an apprenticeship program.
- Pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee.
Then, in order to gain full LPR status, Dreamers must:
- Acquire a degree from a U.S. institution of higher education; or complete at least two years in good standing in a bachelor’s or higher degree program or in an area career and technical education program at a post-secondary level in the U.S.; or
- Complete at least two years of military service, and if discharged, received an honorable discharge; or
- Be employed for periods of time totaling at least three years and at least 75 percent of the time the person was authorized for employment.
- A Dreamer who has obtained full LPR status must then wait another five years before applying for citizenship.
National Security and Criminal Bars to Eligibility for the Dream Act’s Protections
- The Dream Act section of the legislation also contains stringent bars to eligibility related to national security and criminal activity. An applicant is ineligible for relief if any one of the following apply:
- The applicant presents a risk to national security;
- The applicant has a felony conviction of any kind (excluding state immigration-related offenses);
- The applicant has any of the following misdemeanor convictions:
- 1 misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, with a sentence of more than 6 months;
- 2 misdemeanors involving moral turpitude, regardless of the sentence;
- 1 misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence, unless the applicant can demonstrate that he or she was actually a victim; or
- More than 2 misdemeanors of any kind, excluding offenses that should not prevent eligibility (i.e. minor traffic offenses; offenses related to immigration status, certain offenses involving cannabis and non-violent civil disobedience).
The Secretary of Homeland Security is also provided the non-delegable authority to provisionally deny applicants who present a demonstrable threat to public safety based on a conviction, juvenile delinquency adjudication, or direct participation in a criminal street gang. Applicants denied under this provision are entitled to de novo judicial review by an independent federal judge.
The American Promise Act: Protecting TPS and DED Holders
- The American Promise Act section of the legislation also creates a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for individuals who:
- Had or were eligible for TPS on January 1, 2017, or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) on January 20, 2021;
- Have not committed any acts that would disqualify them for relief under these longstanding programs. Among other things applicants cannot have any felony conviction or more than one misdemeanor conviction; and
- Have been continuously present in the United States for a period not less than three years.
- A TPS or DED individual who has obtained lawful permanent resident (LPR) status must then wait another five years before applying for citizenship.
Like Dreamers, many TPS and DED holders are longtime residents of the U.S., active members of their communities, and critical to sectors of our economy. Many TPS holders and their families have built their lives here over decades while contributing to our communities and our economy. After years of ignoring the problem, President Trump realized that Venezuelan people were deserving of protection and granted DED to Venezuelans who were in the United States as of January 20, 2021. The legislation will not allow every Venezuelan DED recipient to become an LPR. Under the bill, individuals must show three years of continuous presence in the United States and continued eligibility for DED to qualify.
“This is not just a moral issue; it is an economic one as well. Reversing the policies of the last four years is not enough. We must reimagine the immigration system in a manner that is humane, just, and fair. The time has come for the values of our nation to be reflected in our immigration policies. H.R. does that, and I am so proud to co-lead this effort to improve our nation’s immigration system,” said Clarke.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act – stabilizes the agricultural sector and preserves our rural heritage by ensuring that farmers can meet their labor needs by establishing a program for agricultural workers, their spouses and minor children can earn legal Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) status through continued agricultural employment. H.R. 1603 also reforms the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. And to ensure a legal workforce for the agriculture sector, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act establishes a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system to ensure compliance with the reformed H-2A visa program while also protecting workers’ due process rights.
Full Bill Text:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2021
Media contact: Remmington Belford Remmington.firstname.lastname@example.org c: 202.480.5737
Yvette D. Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. She represents New York’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes Central and South Brooklyn. Clarke is Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Immigration, a Senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a Senior Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.