Immigration: Where We Are and Where We’re Going
April 8, 2021
On March 17, NETWORK Government Relations Director Ronnate Asirwatham presented a webinar to NETWORK members on the current status of immigration legislation in Congress, as well as highlighting current Administrative wins and ongoing issues at the Southern border.
Currently, NETWORK is tracking six immigration bills that have been introduced in the 117th Congress. The immigration bills are: the U.S. Citizenship Act, Citizenship for Essential Workers, the Dream and Promise Act, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, the DREAM Act, and the SECURE Act. Each bill includes a path to citizenship for our currently undocumented community and family members, including DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients and TPS (Temporary Protected Status), and DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) holders. This pathway to permanent residence and citizenship is critical for “security and dignity,” according to Ronnate. Here is the breakdown of with the legislative process for these bills:
-U.S. Citizenship Act: Could provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million individuals.
-Citizenship for Essential Workers: Could provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 5.2 million individuals.
-Dreamers and TPS legislation: Could provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 4 million individuals.
-Farm Workforce Modernization Act: Could provide a pathway to citizenship for up to 1 million undocumented farmworkers.
|Bill number||Bill Name||Creates a pathway to citizenship for:||Legislative Goal||Progress|
|H.R.6||Dream and Promise Act||4 million DACA recipients, TPS and DED holders||Pass the House, conferenced with 2 Senate bills, the DREAM Act (S.264) and the SECURE Act (S.306) and signed into law||Passed the House in a 228-197 vote on March 18|
|H.R.1603||Farm Workforce Modernization Act||1 million undocumented farmworkers||Pass the House and the Senate and signed into law by the President||Passed the House in a 247-174 vote on March 18|
|S.264||DREAM Act||Current, former, and future undocumented high school graduates||Pass the Senate, conference with the Dream and Promise Act in the House and sign into law||Introduced in the Senate on Feb. 4, 2021 by Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham|
|S.306||SECURE Act||Approximately 400,000 TPS holders||Pass the Senate, conference with the Dream and Promise Act in the House and sign into law||Introduced in the Senate on Feb. 8 by Senator Van Hollen|
|S.747||Citizenship for Essential Workers||5.2 million undocumented essential workers||Needs to pass the House and the Senate – may end up being added to a larger piece of legislation||Introduced in the Senate by Senators Padilla and Warren; Introduced in the House by Reps. Castro and Lieu|
|H.R. 1177/S.348||U.S. Citizenship Act||11 million currently undocumented individuals||Needs to pass the House and the Senate||Introduced in the House on Feb. 18 by Rep. Sanchez and in the Senate by Sen. Menendez|
More hearings and votes for these critical pieces of immigration legislation are expected to take place in April and May. The Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act have already passed in the House of Representatives and await a vote in the Senate. Hearings for the DREAM Act in the Senate and the U.S. Citizenship Act in the House and Senate are expected in April/May.
Three months into the Biden-Harris administration, there have already been some wins for Americans in terms of immigration. Venezuelans are now able to secure TPS, the harmful Public Charge Rule remains blocked, information sharing between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Health and Human Services has been stopped, and people in MPP are now being processed. These actions reverse years of racist and xenophobic policies against immigrants and are an important step towards passing immigration legislation centered on human dignity.
Despite recent rhetoric describing the situation at the Southern border as a sudden “crisis,” Ronnate Asirwatham debunked this by describing border issues as a slow, ongoing issue. The most pressing concerns are unaccompanied children, lack of shelter, and family reunification. The Title 42 Order is also a large concern, as it blocks people from exercising their right to seek asylum, disproportionately affecting Black immigrants and migrants.
Going forward, NETWORK urges its members to ask their Members of Congress to support these immigration policies in Congress that center human dignity and provide a pathway to citizenship for our undocumented siblings.
Pressure also must be placed on the Biden administration to rescind the racist Title 42 order. Title 42 was instituted by the Trump administration and used the COVID-19 crisis to turn away all immigrants and asylum seekers at the border. Much of the current rhetoric against immigration legislation is xenophobic, and this impacts the passage of bills. Despite this, We the People know that immigrants are an important part of our communities, and the majority of voters support a pathway to citizenship for our undocumented neighbors.
In order to dismantle the racism and white supremacy in our immigration system and Build Anew, Congress must enact these policies to reunite families, provide real opportunities for undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship, welcome asylum seekers, and grow compassion in our communities.