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Leading Voices: Time to Create Pathways to Citizenship for Dreamers, TPS/DED Holders and Farmworkers

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Time for Republicans to Stand with the American People and Vote Yes


On Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on two immigration bills, the Dream & Promise Act (HR 6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (HR 1603). In anticipation, editorial boards, impacted people and advocates are weighing in with urgency. With strong Democratic support, the major drama for tomorrow’s vote is whether Republicans are going to step up and vote for these very popular measures.

  • Washington Post editorial, “Republicans have a chance to support the ‘dreamers.’ It’s a defining moment for the GOP.” “Overwhelming majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents favor putting them on a glide path to citizenship — and have supported legislation to do that for years. There is no persuasive argument to continue subjecting them to the threat of deportation, or to impede their promise of contributing to their fullest potential to the United States’ communities and economy … There’s always an excuse for the Republicans’ intransigence; at the moment, it’s the surge of migrant asylum seekers crossing the southern border, many of them unaccompanied minors. Yet none would be eligible for the pathway to citizenship under the House legislation or a similar bill in the Senate. The border problems are a pretext for GOP intransigence … Will enough GOP senators choose to represent the broad swath of Americans, including rank-and-file Republicans, who want a humane, rational future for young adults and teenagers eager to make their mark in this country? Or will they fall in line with a nativist minority, in thrall to former president Donald Trump, who reflexively oppose any steps toward inclusion for people who can be portrayed as ‘the other’? That’s not just a choice on a discrete piece of legislation. It’s a defining fork in the road for a party wrestling with its future.”
  • Chicago Tribune editorial, “Congress, protect the ‘Dreamers’ once and for all.” “The Dreamers are immigrants who were brought here by their parents as children. They have been educated in America, grown up in America and come to regard themselves as Americans. Some reached maturity unaware they were noncitizens — and thus subject to deportation … The first DREAM Act was introduced in 2001, by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. An entire generation of kids who were brought here have grown up plagued by uncertainty about whether they will be allowed to remain in the country that has been their home. Congress has repeatedly failed to do the fair, wise thing by granting them permanent protection. It should not miss another opportunity.”
  • South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial, “TPS for Venezuelans: First step on immigration.” “TPS is sensible. How many other sensible immigration decisions are out there? Plenty. Start with the DREAMers. Their parents brought them here as children, and they are named for the 2001 Development Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act that would have granted them residency status and the right to work. Yes, it’s been two decades since Congress teed up this proposal. It remains popular. A mid-2020 Politico/Morning Consult poll found that even large majorities of those who had voted for Trump in 2016 wanted the roughly 650,000 DREAMers to stay … Washington has delayed immigration reform far too long already. For Republicans, simply shouting ‘Amnesty!’ is not a plan. It’s a dodge.”
  • Veteran Dreamer Gaby Pacheco Miami Herald: “It’s time to give undocumented DREAMers the certainty of American citizenship.” “Ten years ago, in December 2010, I watched and cried from the Senate gallery as DREAMers came a few votes short of seeing the DREAM Act pass in that chamber, after it had already passed in the House of Representatives. I had the honor of helping draw awareness to DREAMers, the name for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, as one of three young immigrants who marched from Miami to Washington as part of the Trail of Dreams. Yet despite 55 votes and the support of the public, the DREAM Act could not overcome a filibuster. Despite important breakthroughs over the past decade, DREAMers still are not able to plan their futures in the United States with full confidence. But now we are in a different moment. It’s time for Congress to deliver a legislative fix for DREAMers, quickly, and to build on that momentum to push for broader reforms. And Florida’s elected representatives — of both parties — should be part of the overdue solution.”
  • Marissa Molina, DACA recipient and Colorado State Immigration Director at FWD.us, said on a recent press call, “Congress has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to allow Dreamers and TPS holders the ability to earn citizenship and honor our long-standing contributions to Colorado. Coloradan immigrants are a critical part of our state’s continued economic and health recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and we deserve the opportunity to live without fear in the country we call home. I am hopeful that Congress will vote in support of the American Dream and Promise Act, and take action to represent a majority of Americans who support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people like me.
  • Sarah Chavera Edwards op-ed in Newsweek, “They Help Put Food on Your Table. Undocumented Farmworkers Should be Legal.” “The work that undocumented farmworkers do is essential because without their contribution, especially during this pandemic, there would be a food shortage … Passing the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would be the first step essential workers need to become citizens. Through their hard work and dedication, they have already proven themselves worthy of citizenship. A pathway to legality would grant farmworkers more rights and the privilege to call themselves American.”

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

The American people are ready for decisive action to put millions of undocumented immigrants on pathways to citizenship. Immigrant youth, TPS/DED holders, and farm workers are ready. Democrats in Congress are ready. The American people are ready.

The question is whether Republicans are prepared to vote for these long overdue and very popular measures. 

In particular, we’ll be keeping our eyes on the 34 House Republicans who voted for the farm worker bill last Congress and remain in office as well as the 6 House Republicans who voted for Dream and Promise in 2019 and are still serving. 

We will also watch with interest the six new House Republicans who represent congressional districts that Biden won in 2020, and were not members of Congress during the 2019 votes: David Valadao (CA-21); Mike Garcia (CA-25); Young Kim (CA-39); Michelle Steel (CA-48); Beth Van Duyne (TX-24); and Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27). Each of them represent diversifying districts. Of note, California Representatives Valadao, Kim, and Steel ran as pro-Dreamer or pro-DACA candidates in their 2020 elections. See our recent reports on Republicans and 2020 here.

It is time for undocumented immigrants to be formally recognized as the Americans they already are. It is time for members of Congress from both parties to stand with the American people to make it happen.