House Passes Dream Act & Path for Farmworkers

Last week, the House of Representatives passed two immigration bills that would grant legal status and a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, including both Dreamers and agricultural workers. The two bills are titled the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, respectively.

Both bills passed largely without Republican support, thanks to the Democratic majority in the House. However, they face a difficult path to passage in the Senate, where 10 Republican votes will be needed along with unanimous Democratic approval.

The American Dream and Promise Act would apply to anyone eligible for DACA protections, i.e. people who arrived in the US as children. According to the law’s authors, it provides a path to citizenship for 2.5 million people. It passed with the support of 9 Republican votes along with the Democrats.

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides a path to legal status for undocumented agricultural workers, which number around 1.3 million—half of all agricultural workers. Some workers would be able to achieve permanent residency status if they pay a fine and stay an agricultural worker for four to eight years, depending on how long they had been doing farm work.

Combined, the bills offer a path to citizenship for about 3.8 million people, but that’s not even half of the 11 million undocumented people in the United States. Without Biden’s immigration package, there are over 7 million people without a path forward.

4,500 Children Detained at the Border

About 4,500 children are in custody at the US-Mexico border, with over half of them at a single facility in Donna, Texas. More unaccompanied minors are being admitted to the US under Biden, which has required the White House to call on FEMA to help transfer minors to “more humane facilities.”

Meanwhile, Republicans are decrying the surge in unaccompanied minors who have been detained at the border, calling for harsher immigration enforcement. This has made bipartisanship on the immigration package Biden proposed in February a remote goal. While the White House had hoped for bipartisan support on sweeping immigration changes, the package hasn’t even earned unanimous Democratic support in the House.