Armed with hope for the first time in years that immigration legislation can pass through Congress, Democrats on Capitol Hill are moving forward this week on bills that could help create a pathway to citizenship for millions of individuals living in the USA without legal status.
The House will begin action on both the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’soffice said Thursday.
Congress has struggled for decades to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
The last comprehensive bill, sponsored by a group of bipartisan senators, was brought up in 2013. That legislation, which included a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants and tighter border security, passed the Senate with bipartisan support but died in the House. It’s been more than three decades since Congress last enacted broad immigration changes.
The bills the House will take up are separate from President Joe Biden’s comprehensive immigration plan – the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 – which would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, with a shorter pathway available for farmworkers and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that allows people brought to the country illegally as children to stay.
Biden’s immigration bill probably will face an uphill battle in Congress, particularly in a Senate split 50-50 where all Democrats and at least 10 Republicans would need to vote in favor of the bill to avoid a filibuster.
Democrats and activists expect the two standalone bills moving through the House have a better chance of passing the full Congress. The Dream Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act both passed in the House in 2019, but the legislation was never brought up in the Republican-controlled Senate.