June 5th, 2019
For Immediate Release
Washington, DC - The US House of Representatives has finally passed H.R.6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, one of the most critical immigration bills in recent times.
The legislation, which is not law, would provide a path to legalization for DREAM-eligible immigrants, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders and is a reflection of the growing power of our movement in demanding protection for all thirteen TPS countries and DED for Liberia. The bill also calls for the return of previously deported people who meet the aforementioned criteria.
The 237-187 vote was possible because of organizing by impacted immigrants, immigrant rights’ advocates and our allies. This bill by itself will not be enough to protect undocumented immigrants. Instead, it is the beginning of a long journey that would give 2.5 million immigrants a pathway to citizenship.
UndocuBlack is glad that attempts by the Republicans to introduce an anti-immigrant amendment to further criminalize our communities was rejected during the House floor debate.
Currently, this bill, particularly for the Dream eligible section of the bill, allows eligibility for people with vacated convictions and marijuana possession. The bill also returns something lost long ago in immigration bills: the right to an attorney in certain cases of an applicant's denial. Additionally, there is a statute of limitations on some offenses. However, we are dismayed that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will have some discretion to deny an application based on an applicant's history (up to five years).
While we now have members of Congress on record detailing the racism immigrants face, racially biased gang databases and profiling by law enforcement; we know that our collective work decriminalizing communities continues. Thanks to our advocacy and that of other criminal and immigration justice advocates H.R. 6 prohibits gang databases from being independently used as evidence against an applicant.
We are grateful for all who made last night's vote possible. We challenge the Senate to do what is right and pass this important legislation. All undocumented communities including immigrant youth, TPS and DED holders must have stability and we welcome the day that legislation honoring our dignity and granting a path to citizenship finally becomes law.
Jonathan Jayes-Green, UndocuBlack Network’s Director:
A year ago, when we were floating the idea of merging DREAM legislation with TPS and DED, we were told it was impossible. We fought hard, organized our own community, our allies and the broader public and made the impossible possible. While we are celebrating today the victory for some of our community members, we are still building towards the day when legislation relating to our community does not exclude people based on juvenile adjudications or even support the usage of gang databases. That day is possible, it’s coming and we’re committed to getting there.
Patrice Lawrence, UndocuBlack Network’s National Policy and Advocacy Director
Looking back at this journey to the passage of this bill is truly a journey of making the impossible possible. This administration has repeatedly attempted to end programs that have provided protections for our communities, has ramped up detentions and deportations attacking us in every way possible. Last night was an example of us collectively saying: that’s enough. The passage of the Dream and Promise Act came true with the fierce dedication and determination of all our immigrant youth, TPS, DED communities and our allies. I am proud to help usher in this win. The fight does not end here.