Immigration advocates thrilled by bill that would create pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients
New help for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients could be on the way after the House passed a bill aimed at creating a pathway to citizenship.
The House passed the American Dream and Promise Act Thursday. It would create a pathway to citizenship for more than 2 million recipients if they meet certain requirements.
Immigrants up to the age of 18 would obtain legal status for 10 years if they were brought to the U.S. before 2021.
To get permanent legal status, DACA recipients would have to get a degree in higher education, be employed for three years or serve in the military.
Right now, there is no path to permanent citizenship for those in the U.S. under DACA.
Immigration advocates at Make the Road New York in Brentwood say it's exciting that so many people could soon become permanent citizens.
"Would give me more security, it would allow me to not have the fear of being separated from my 2-year-old and my family," says Marcy Suarez, of Make The Road, a DACA recipient herself. "And continuing to establish my life as I have since I came into this country, being able to contribute to my community and provide for my family."
Immigration attorney Siomara Umana says she supports the bill overall, but has some concerns.
"This component that the mere allegation of gang involvement can cause someone to be ineligible," says Umana.
Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin says the legal status of DACA recipients should be part of a broader conversation.
"Our nation's immigration system is flawed and in need of fixes. Strengthening border security and interior enforcement must not get ignored in this conversation, and, unfortunately, Democrats don't seem to understand that when it comes to the flow of illegal immigrants across our borders, the faucet needs to be turned off first and foremost," says Zeldin.
Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi says he voted in favor of the bill in honor of his father and DACA recipients who attended school with his daughter.
"Today I'll support the Dream and Promise Act for Mario, and for Nelson, and for all the other Dreamers whose goal it is like my father's to become a real American," says Suozzi.
The House also passed a similar immigration bill to help agriculture workers obtain citizenship. President Joe Biden has voiced support for both bills.