On March 18th, the House passed H.R.6 American Promise and Dream Act of 2021, which aims to provide relief from deportation to DACA recipients, TPS holders and DALCA children, dependents of highly skilled workers. Also, the house passed H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021, which would permit farmworkers, along with their children and spouses, to earn legal status. Experts discuss both bills, and their perspectives whether these will pass the Senate, along with potential compromises. The fate of these two bills will have a huge impact on millions of people living in the United States.
Theresa Cardinal Brown, is the Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) managing director of immigration and cross-border policy. She was previously director of immigration and border patrol policy at the US Chamber of Commerce. Carinal Brown explains: “The two bills we are talking about are H.R. 6 the Dream and Promise Act and H.R. 1603 known as the Farm Work Modernization Act. H.R. 6 would provide conditional permanent resident status to dreamers, DACA holders TPS status holders with more than 3 million who would be eligible. H.R. 1603 provides a pathway to a green card and applied to citizenship for those who qualify. More than 1 million undocumented farmworkers would qualify. In terms of this passing, trajectory in the Senate is difficult to project. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) believes it will not pass in its current form although the majority of Democrats and Republicans in polls do support legalization of the Dreamers. There is also a lot of bipartisan support in improving conditions for farmworkers, but it is still difficult to find common ground although the bills do have a lot of momentum.”
Joseph Villela, who has 15 years of experience in advancing proposals aimed at equity in community investments, educational equity, and immigrant inclusion through systems change adds: “We see many challenges due to our broken immigration system. Even though over 600,000 individuals are protected under DACA, we had an administration undermining this effort and were being attacked for many years. Their lives were threatened by an executive order. Legal status provided to professionals and students, had a huge impact in their day to lives, as 70% indicated they got their job because of their status. They were able to open a bank account and credit cards, which are beneficial to our economy. The effects are far reaching into these people’s lives.”
Jose Muñoz is the national communications manager for United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network in the nation. He is also a published writer whose work has appeared in The Huffington Post, MTV News, DailyKos, among others. He adds: “I myself know firsthand the importance of this legislation. I came here when I was a few months old and my status has been uncertain for almost 30 years. I received DACA and was able to get a work permit, a driver’s license, and finish college. It alleviated some of the fear of being detained and deported. We have seen DACA recipients living their lives court case to court case. DACA is still at risk, and this needs to change. A pathway to citizenship is imperative.”
Brent Renison, an immigration attorney in Portland, Oregon, recipient of as the Oregon State Bar President’s Public Service Award, for his civil rights work adds: “I’ve been an immigration lawyer for 24 years, and I have clients who I have been working with for almost that entire time. Over the last few decades, the system has moved so slowly that now families who brought their children here before elementary school, are turning 21 are no longer eligible for child visas. The administration can change a lot of this right now by changing the interpretation of the law, and to have a broad reading versus a narrow reading. A lot of people don’t realize DACA recipients are now part of blended families, who have been waiting many years. The low quotas are at the root cause of all these problems. Having worked on passing legislation for many years, I can say in order for this to pass it has to be put on some sort of defense bill, I see it being changed to the point where it won’t include what is necessary for these families.”
Leydy Rangel, a first-generation college graduate from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, where she received a BS in Communication with an emphasis in journalism and political science minor. Rangel is the communications specialist at UFW Foundation, a non-profit that empowers and advocates for immigrant, farm workers and Latinos at the local and national levels. Rangel adds: “Out of the nation’s 2.4 million farm workers, half are undocumented. Change is critical for a more stable workforce, and it means more food safety. My parents came here illegally and have been working in agriculture their entire lives, as have I and these bills, if passed, would have a deep effect on our legal status.”
Ultimately, the Senate will decide whether or not these two bills pass and what changes are made to them. In their current form, they would allow a path to citizenship to many who have been in this country nearly their entire lives.