The House passed two immigration reform bills on Thursday that would provide a pathway to either citizenship or legal status for certain groups of immigrants in the U.S.
One of the measures – the American Dream and Promise Act – would create a pathway to permanent residency and, eventually, citizenship for young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, as well as immigrants with temporary protected status.
The bill passed Thursday by a vote of 228-197, with 9 Republicans joining all Democrats to support the measure
“Millions in this country live in fear, holding their breaths every day, that they could be deported to faraway lands that are not their homes,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Thursday. “Because America is their home. For Dreamers, it has been their home since their earliest days. And today, this House is going to take action – as we did last Congress – to help them breathe easier.”
The other bill, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would create an avenue to legal status and permanent residency for migrant farmworkers while reforming the H-2A agricultural visa program and strengthening requirements for E-Verify.
E-Verify is an electronic system used to confirm workers’ legal status. Thirty Republicans joined all but one Democrat to pass the bill by a vote of 247-174.
The two measures face uncertainty in the Senate where Democrats need 10 Republicans to join them to meet the 60 vote threshold currently required to pass legislation.
The votes come against the backdrop of a growing challenge at the border, where an influx of unaccompanied migrant minors has strained government resources and prompted the Biden administration to prop up new facilities to process and house the arrivals.
Republicans have seized on the situation as an example of the negative consequences of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies and a condemnation of his presidency in general – souring the appetite for any kind of immigration reform that can be viewed as more lenient.
Both measures are broadly supported by advocacy groups. The American public also overwhelmingly backs a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.