On June 4, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) celebrated the one-year anniversary of the passage of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refuses to consider this amnesty legislation, rendering null its chance of passage in the 116th Congress.
That did not stop Speaker Pelosi and other House Democrats from celebrating the anniversary of the bill’s passage. It was, after all, a top priority for Democrats after seizing the House majority in the 2018 elections. Even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joined Speaker Pelosi’s press conference commemoration of the event.
Addressing the anniversary, Speaker Pelosi said:
One year ago the House took a momentous step forward for justice by passing H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act. Since the earliest days of our nation’s history, immigrants have strengthened and blessed America with their courage, patriotism, optimism and determination to succeed. And, now, millions of immigrants, including more than 200,000 DACA-recipients, are risking their lives to save lives on the frontline of the pandemic. They deserve and have earned our support as they sacrificed for our country.
Speaker Pelosi’s claim that 200,000 Deferred Action for childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are “risking their lives on the frontline of the pandemic” is incredible. It is also patently false. There are not 200,000 DACA recipients working in healthcare on the “frontlines” of the pandemic. That is not to belittle the DACA recipients who are working in healthcare – it is only to point out that Speaker Pelosi is exaggerating for effect.
So, what exactly is in the American Dream and Promise Act? Due to our 24/7 news cycle and the natural ebb and flow of current events, a year ago can seem like an eternity. In a nutshell, H.R. 6 is a massive amnesty that provides a pathway to citizenship for over 2 million illegal aliens. The bill is actually divided into two sections – the “Dream” and “Promise.”
The “Promise” section deals only with aliens shielded from removal by the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs. These programs offer temporary deportation protection to illegal aliens from countries undergoing natural disasters, political upheaval, and the like. The president has the authority to designate TPS. DED is a similar program that applies only to Liberians. Together, TPS and DED recipients number close to 400,000.
Simply, H.R. 6 offers these aliens a pathway to citizenship, despite the supposed “temporary” nature of Temporary Protected Status. Applicants can bring administrative and judicial challenges if the government denies their petition.
The “Dream” section is the bulk of the amnesty. It goes well beyond the 700,000 or so that have active DACA status. The eligibility requirements for the amnesty are broad:
- Entry five years before the law’s enactment (2015 if H.R. 6 became law today).
- Aliens must be pursuing education or hold at least a high school degree or equivalent.
- Must have been younger than 18 when they entered the U.S. and continuously resided in the U.S. since that time.
There are few restrictions other than that. Recipients cannot have more than three violent misdemeanors or one felony unless they carry a misdemeanor related to domestic violence. Also, the government cannot remove any aliens who meet this standard for relief unless they have gone through the administrative and judicial review process.
Fortunately for supporters of immigration reform, this bill died in the Senate. While there is no chance of this becoming law before the 2020 election, there is certainly a chance that a Democrat-controlled Senate and House would pass a similar package following a successful 2020 election. For pro-amnesty lawmakers this bill is the gold standard and will almost certainly see renewed attention when the next Congress begins after the 2020 election.