Democrats to reintroduce Dream Act on March 12 with TPS and DED protections

Roybal-Allard, Velázquez, Clarke to roll out measure with party leaders

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., will on March 12 reintroduce the Dream Act, a bill to provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The legislation will have some changes from prior versions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats on March 12 will reintroduce the Dream Act with new language providing protections for Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients. 

California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard will reintroduce the measure — which provides permanent legal protections and a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — as the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, according to her office. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reserved the bill number HR 6 for the legislation, which has long been a top priority of House Democrats.

In 2017, Democrats filed a discharge petition to try to force a floor vote on the measure since Republican leaders wouldn’t bring it up, but the petition failed to get enough signatures. During the 2018 midterms, Pelosi promised Democrats would bring the Dream Act to the floor if they won the majority.

Millions of Dreamers would benefit from the legislation, including the roughly 800,000 who have had legal protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Donald Trump has tried to end DACA, but federal courts have blocked him from doing so. 

During negotiations over border security funding earlier this year that resulted in the 35-day partial government shutdown, Trump floated a temporary extension of DACA funding in exchange for money for a border wall, but Democrats rejected the offer. DACA recipients have said they did not want their legal status traded for the wall.

The rollout of Roybal-Allard’s legislation next month will also feature Pelosi and other party leaders along with New York Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez and Yvette D. Clarke, the other lead sponsors of the bill, according to Roybal-Allard’s office. 

Advocates are also likely to attend the rollout, as they’ve done for the introduction of House Democrats’ other top priority bills this Congress.

The reintroduction of the Dream Act has taken longer than other measures simply reintroduced from the previous Congress because it will include changes from prior versions. 

Among those changes are the inclusion of protections for Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure recipients. TPS and DED offer protections from deportation for U.S. immigrants who can't return to their home countries due to a crisis, such as natural disaster, epidemic or civil war.

Trump tried to terminate TPS for individuals from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador, but a federal court ruling has blocked him from doing so. DED protections for individuals from Liberia are scheduled to expire March 31.

“TPS and DED protections are included because President Trump’s cruel and reckless actions have increased the urgency to address these issues and protect these individuals in our communities,” Roybal-Allard’s office said.

The 2017 version of the Dream Act was bipartisan, but it’s unclear if any Republicans will sign on to the 2019 version. Two of the six of the Republican co-sponsors on the 2017 bill — Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Joe L. Barton of Texas — have retired and the other four — Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Carlos Curbelo of Florida, and Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California — lost their re-election bids last fall.

Also watch: Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley join protest for immigrants in limbo

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