Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved two immigration reform bills known as the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. These bills would provide lawful status for individuals known as Dreamers and for Agricultural Laborers, providing more long-term hope for these two categories of intending immigrants. While many Dreamers are currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, they remain at risk of deportation and lack permanent status.
Notably, despite allegiances along party lines, 9 moderate House Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting for the Dreamers bill and 30 Republicans backed the Agricultural Laborers bill, suggesting some bipartisanship.
The news is exciting in securing the first critical step in President Biden’s plan to grant a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented individuals. Congress has long been deadlocked over immigration and the next step is the more harrowing one as the Senate must vote to pass these bills as well. These two “stand-alone” bills may represent Democrats’ best chance of getting immigration legislation through the evenly divided Senate as opposed to a more comprehensive broad-based bill. Notably, a path to passage in the Senate will likely come with strings attached for bolstering security at the Mexican border, particularly in light of the reported surges in the arrivals of migrants from Central America in recent weeks.
It is likewise important to note that the greatest chance for bill passage in the Senate will be if it successfully clears the controversial procedural filibuster hurdle which requires 60 votes, meaning that at least 10 Republicans would have to vote affirmatively. Without this filibuster obstacle, there would be tremendous hope for Dreamers and Farm Workers.
Given the House’s passage of these two bills, and while awaiting the result of a Senate vote, it will be important for undocumented individuals to understand their rights and seek immigration counsel immediately so that they may avail themselves of these possible benefits should legislation pass. The Shulman Law Group, an award-winning Immigration Law Firm located in Elmwood Park, New Jersey, invites intending immigrants in each of these two categories, Dreamers and Farm Workers, to schedule a consultation as soon as possible, to discuss their entry backgrounds and potential pathways to legalization.