WASHINGTON, Mar 13, CMC – Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has joined three of her congressional colleagues in introducing the Dream and Promise Act, also known as H.R. 6, in the US House of Representatives that would allow young immigrants known as “Dreamers” to secure lawful permanent residence and American citizenship.
Clarke, the daughter of Caribbean immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, said the bill is the 116th Congress’s version of the Dream Act that introduced in 2001.
However, Clarke said H.R. 6 includes protections and a path to citizenship not just for Dreamers but also for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians, among others, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries.
“We need comprehensive immigration reform that protects Dreamers, as well as TPS and DED beneficiaries. That’s why I am proud to be a co-lead on the Dream and Promise Act (HR 6), ‘she said.
The bill is co-authored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Nydia Velázquez.
“This bill will include a path to citizenship for Dreamers, as well as for people covered by Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure. This bill builds upon the Dream Act, the American Promise Act, and the ASPIRE TPS Act, which I introduced last Congress,” Clarke said.
Roybal-Allard said that, as a co-author of the original Dream Act, she has “seen first-hand the love that our Dreamers have for our country.
“They are our neighbours and colleagues who help strengthen our communities. They are students, scientists, researchers, and small business owners.
“Our Dream and Promise Act recognizes the contributions and patriotism of Dreamers, TPS recipients, and DED beneficiaries by helping them stay in America, pursue a path to citizenship, and keep strengthening our great country,” Roybal-Allard said, adding “I look forward to fighting for the passage of this pivotal legislation in the House, and making it the law of the land”.
Velázquez said that “for two years, the Trump Administration has viciously targeted some of our most vulnerable immigrant communities creating a climate of uncertainty and fear.
“Whether it is Dreamers who arrived here as children or TPS or DED recipients who came here fleeing desperate conditions, we need to make clear to these immigrants – our friends and neighbors – that we stand with them and they are here to stay,” she said.
“I’m proud to join with my colleagues, Congresswomen Roybal-Allard and Yvette Clarke, in introducing this legislation, which would provide these communities with protections under the law and a path toward citizenship,” Velázquez added.
Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the Dream and Promise Act allows Dreamers and individuals with TPS and DED to “contribute fully in the country they love and know to be their home by providing a pathway to citizenship.
She said the legislation would grant Dreamers conditional permanent resident status for 10 years, and cancel removal proceedings. if they have been continuously physically present in the US for four years preceding the date of the enactment of the bill and were 17 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the US.
Clarke also said the Act would, among other things, grant Dreamers conditional permanent resident status if they graduated from high school, obtained a General Equivalency Diploma (GED) or industry recognized credential, or were in a program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma, GED or equivalent exam, or in an apprenticeship program.
In order to gain full lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, Clarke said Dreamers must acquire a degree from a US institution of higher education; or complete at least two years in good standing in a bachelor’s or higher degree programme or in an area career and technical education program at a post-secondary level in the US.
For LPR, Clarke said Dreamers must also complete at least two years of military service, and if discharged, received an honourable discharge; or employed for periods of time totalling at least three years and at least 75 percent of the time with employment authorization.
The Caribbean American congresswoman said the bill also includes a number of provisions for Dreamers, including repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which penalizes states that grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency.
She said the bill also allows Dreamers to access federal financial aid; ensure that individuals with conditional permanent resident status are able to access professional, commercial, and business licenses; and permitting eligible Dreamers deported from the United States by the Trump Administration to apply for relief from abroad.
Clarke said the Dream and Promise Act would grant individuals with TPS or DED LPR status and cancel removal proceedings if they have been in the United States for a period of three years before the Act’s enactment; and were eligible or had TPS on September 25, 2016 or had DED status as of September 28, 2016.
“The bill amends current TPS law to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide an explanation of a decision to terminate a TPS designation and requires the secretary must provide a report three days after publishing a notice of such termination.
“This report must explain the original designation and any progress made by a country to resolve the issues leading to TPS designation,” Clarke said.
“The secretary also has to describe the qualitative and quantitative methods used to assess whether or not country conditions have improved, which would include addressing any challenges or shortcomings related to the initial designation,” Clarke said, adding that the bill also clarifies that an immigrant entering the TPS programme will be considered as having been inspected and admitted into the United States.