Path to citizenship for farmworkers and Dreamers: Immigration bills pass the House, but what about Senate?

Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), during a press conference with Republican members of the House of Representatives and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) about immigration reform, at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

The House passed two big immigration bills that would create a pathway to citizenship for some farmworkers, so-called Dreamers, and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status. Both bills passed with bipartisan support. It’s a piecemeal approach rather than comprehensive reform, and it comes at a time when more migrants have been coming to the U.S.-Mexico border.

If passed by the Senate, the Dream and Promise Act would give nearly 2.5 million immigrants in the U.S. a chance to become citizens, according to Nicole Narea, an immigration reporter for Vox. She says in some regards, the bill is an expanded version of the DREAM Act, which passed two decades ago. 

“It basically ties together the fate of Dreamers ... as well as immigrants with other kinds of temporary humanitarian protections, including Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure,” Narea says. “Both of those kinds of statuses allow people to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation, and are typically granted to citizens of countries that are experiencing civil conflict, natural disasters, or other extreme circumstances.”

That includes more than 400,000 Honduran, El Salvadorian, and Haitan immigrants who have often laid roots in the U.S. for years. Narea says the bill would make it easier for these residents to be eligible and apply for green cards and permanent residency. 

The House also passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. According to Narea, it would provide legal status to approximately 325,000 immigrants currently working in agriculture. 

Narea points out that the bill will likely receive bipartisan support due to the makeup of Republican districts. 

“Normally Republicans are not eager to support legalization efforts, but because many of them represent districts where agriculture is a big industry, this is a compelling bill for them.”

Credits

Guest:
Nicole Narea - investigative reporter at Vox

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Angie Perrin, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Bennett Purser