House passes bill to protect 'Dreamers'
By Keya Vakil
June 5, 2019

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation that would offer a path to citizenship to more than 2 million undocumented immigrants, including “Dreamers” whose parents brought them to the United States when they were children.

The vote was 237 to 187. Every Democrat in Virginia’s congressional delegation voted for the bill, every Virginia Republican voted against it.

The legislation would grant dreamers 10 years of legal resident status, if they meet certain conditions. The Washington Post reports “they would then receive permanent green cards after completing at least two years of higher education or military service, or after working for three years.”

The bill would finally provide relief to millions of Dreamers across the country and is line with public opinion. A recent poll showed that 77% of Americans support citizenship for Dreamers.

In Virginia, the bill would provide protection to 69,400 immigrants. The average Dreamer in Virginia who is eligible for protection under the bill was only 9 years old when they arrived in the U.S., according to the Center for American Progress.

The bill would also bolster Virginia’s economy, as eligible immigrants and their households pay $123,900,000 in annual mortgage payments, contribute nearly $1 billion federal, state and local taxes each year, and generate almost $2.5 billion in spending power.

While Democrats supported the bill en masse, only seven Republicans voted for it, as the GOP continues to support President Trump’s hard-line immigration agenda.

In recent years, Democrats have advocated for citizenship for Dreamers while also attempting to reform the system’s immigration system. But President Trump’s insistence on a border wall, sharp cuts to legal immigration, changes to the country’s asylum laws, and changes to laws to speed up deportations have resulted in a stalemate.

While this stalemate did not prevent the Democratic-controlled House from passing the bill, the legislation now goes to the Senate, where it’s unlikely to be considered by Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and his fellow Republicans, who remain committed to supporting President Trump’s unpopular immigration agenda.

Photo © Rodney Dunning

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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