Dream and Promise Act Provides Needed Solution for Immigrant Families

This statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Washington, D.C., March 12, 2019—More than two million people with long-term roots in the United States who are key supports to their families and communities are one step closer to a clear, attainable path to citizenship thanks to today’s introduction of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) in the House of Representatives by Members Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and Yvette Clark (D-NY). The bill addresses the crisis faced by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) beneficiaries and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) as a result of the Trump Administration’s actions.

The bill provides a permanent solution for immigrants whose lives have been turned upside down by the Trump Administration’s reckless decision to terminate protected status for more than 800,000 DACA young adults and more than 400,000 people with TPS or DED. It comes at a critical time as DACA, TPS, and DED beneficiaries are caught in limbo while the federal court system grapples with the future of their protections.

The act is an answer to the crisis facing DACA beneficiaries and TPS holders, along with their families, who are long-term residents of the United States. A large share of DACA and TPS recipients are students or parents of children and youth enrolled in our nation’s secondary and postsecondary institutions. In fact, 97 percent of DACA beneficiaries are either in school or working. Similarly, labor force participation for TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti ranges from 81 to 88 percent. The bill not only helps families stay together and secure long-term economic stability, but also serves as an anti-poverty tool by enabling thousands of young people to pursue their education and career goals.

The bill is a promising step forward and reflects the diverse experiences of the immigrant population. To qualify for relief and obtain conditional resident status, Dreamers must have been continuously present in the country for at least four years prior to the date of the bill’s enactment and must meet certain educational and criminal background requirements. After receiving conditional residence status, applicants would qualify for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status by completing at least three years of employment, two years of postsecondary education—including in a career or technical education program—or two years of military service.

The bill also provides LPR status to TPS and DED holders who have been in the United States for three years prior to the bill’s enactment and were eligible for or had TPS on September 25, 2016, or had DED status as of September 28, 2016.

The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 ensures protections for DACA young adults and offers a solution for other undocumented young people, including those who may have been left out of DACA or previous legislative proposals. For example, the bill offers an employment option to qualify for LPR status and provides a hardship exemption for full-time caregivers of minor children. This ensures that immigrant youth who must work to help support their families, provide care for their children, or choose to pursue a career that doesn’t require a four-year degree will still be able to get on a path to citizenship. It also allows eligible Dreamers who were deported because of the president’s ramped up immigration enforcement measures to apply for relief from abroad. The bill helps make postsecondary education more affordable for low-income undocumented students by giving them eligibility for federal financial assistance—such as work-study and student loans—and making it less burdensome for states to offer in-state tuition.

CLASP calls on Congress to quickly pass the Dream and Promise Act and is committed to continuing to work with our partners to push back against the Trump Administration’s continued attacks on the safety and wellbeing of immigrant families and to help advance policy solutions that promote upward economic mobility.

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CLASP is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions for people with low incomes. For 50 years, we've offered trusted expertise, a deeply knowledgeable staff, and practical yet visionary approaches to opportunity for all. CLASP centers the voices of people with low incomes, equips advocates with strategies that work, and helps public officials put good ideas into practice. Our solutions directly address the barriers people face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status. For more information, visit clasp.org and follow us on Twitter @CLASP_DC.