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What the Dream and Promise Act Means for Millions Living in the U.S.

In today's heated climate (both figuratively and literally), it has become all too easy for positive stories to be drowned out by the ongoing cycle of breaking news (unfortunately also figuratively and literally). 

This week, amidst ongoing media discussions on potential new immigration policy proposals by the Trump administration, the House Judiciary Committee voted on three major pieces of legislation that stand to protect millions living in the U.S. 

The Dream Act (H.R. 2820), sponsored by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), would grant over 3 million "Dreamers" brought to the U.S. as minor children a pathway to citizenship, provided they meet certain eligibility requirements after five years. Moreover, this number includes the nearly 800,000 Dreamers under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The committee voted to pass this Act 19-10. 

The Promise Act (H.R. 2821) was sponsored by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and would grant those eligible foreign nationals currently under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) a pathway to citizenship as well by allowing them to apply for lawful permanent resident status. The committee voted to pass this Act 20-9. 

The last bill, the Venezuela TPS Act (H.R. 549), was sponsored by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) and would allow Venezuelans fleeing from one of the worst humanitarian crisis in history to qualify for TPS so they are able to temporarily live and work in the US. The committee voted to pass this Act 20-9. 

As these three major pieces of legislation have cleared the Judiciary Committee, they can now be introduced to the House floor where lawmakers will undoubtedly clash in partisan debate, as was unfortunately the case on the Judiciary Committee floor. Upon introduction to the House floor, the bills will be combined into the fittingly titled "American Dream and Promise Act" (H.R. 6).

These are all historical steps forward in protecting immigrants' rights, but it is nonetheless disappointing that such an advancement of human rights is still being met with repudiation. It is important to remember that behind each DACA holder, each TPS recipient, each Dreamer, is a human being, with aspirations and dreams to prosper in the United States, a country that, to many, is the only home they have ever known. It is important to recognize their achievements and contributions to this country, as neighbors, students, parents, and friends. We at McEntee Law know firsthand that immigrants are what truly makes America great. We thank our Congressional members who steadfastly stood by our Dreamers in protecting their rights. Special thanks goes to our very own Senator Durbin who has spent the past two decades advocating for Dreamers. We're so proud to have him represent the state of Illinois in Congress. 

Wednesday's votes were met with explosive enthusiasm on the floor with cheers from all those supporters present. The bills were described by Rep. Jayapal (D-Wash.) as "the most progressive bills ever passed in the House". Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Rep. Nadler (D-N.Y.) was proud to call it "an incredible achievement" and a "historic day for so many." We are proud to stand with Congress's efforts in advancing immigrants' rights. We hope that with the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act, the TPS and DACA recipients and Dreamers will be provided their long-awaited secured path to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness in the U.S.

We will be monitoring these bills closely in the next few weeks as they make their way through debates on the House floor. If passed, the Act will move to the Senate for a vote. Be sure to follow McEntee Law on social media for the latest on this exciting development!

Fiona McEntee