The bill would provide conditional permanent resident status for undocumented aliens who were brought to the U.S. before their 18th birthday, which would permit them to live and work here legally for three years and put them on a path to Legal Permanent Resident status and citizenship.
Such bills are referred to as “DREAM Acts,” an acronym for “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.”
It might be more accurate, however, to call this bill “The False Hope Act.”
Bills to provide lawful status for undocumented aliens who were brought here as children have been pending in Congress since 2001, and we are yet to see one enacted legislatively, rather than by executive action. And this one was introduced by Democrats in a Republican-controlled Congress. Moreover, it is out of step with President Donald Trump’s policies on legal immigration.
Why hasn’t a DREAM Act bill been enacted?
No one knows for sure. I think it is due mainly to the fact that the number of undocumented aliens who would benefit from such legislation could get quite large. Also, the fact that they are innocent of wrongdoing with respect to being here unlawfully does not make it in our national interest to let them stay. This is particularly problematic with respect to the American Hope Act. Section 4 of this bill includes a waiver that applies to some serious criminal exclusion grounds.
Although estimates for the number of undocumented aliens who could be impacted are not available yet for the American Hope Act, they are available for similar bills that were introduced this year, the Recognizing America’s Children Act, H.R. 1468, and the Dream Act of 2017, S. 1615.
The Migration Policy Institute estimates that potentially 2,504,000 aliens would be able to meet the minimum age at arrival and years of residence thresholds for the House bill and 3,338,000 for the Senate bill. However, some of them would need to complete educational requirements before they could apply.
Trump is supporting a revised version of the RAISE Act which would reduce the annual number of legal immigrants from one million to 500,000 over the next decade. It does not seem likely therefore that he will be receptive to a program that would make a very substantial increase in the number of legal immigrants.
The American Hope Act would treat all immigrant youth who were brought here as children the same, regardless of educational level, military service, or work history. Gutiérrez said in a press release, “We are not picking good immigrants versus bad immigrants or deserving versus undeserving, we are working to defend those who live among us and should have a place in our society.”
This is inconsistent with the skills-based point system in the revised version of the RAISE Act that Trump is supporting. It would prioritize immigrants who are most likely to succeed in the United States and expand the economy. Points would be based on factors such as education, English-language ability, age, and achievements.
Thus, Democrats’ American Hope Act as presently written is very likely to suffer the same fate as the other DREAM Acts.
Success requires a fresh, new approach, and the approach taken by the revised RAISE Act might work by basing eligibility on national interest instead of on a desire to help the immigrants. Certainly, it would be more likely to get Trump’s support.”
Read Nolan’s complete article over at The Hill on the above link.
I agree with Nolan insofar as any immigration bill sponsored by
Democrats at present is DOA. On the other hand, I doubt that the RAISE Act will pass either. There aren’t enough votes in the GOP caucus to pass any type of meaningful immigration reform without some help from the Democrats.
So, it doesn’t hurt for the Democrats to start laying down some specific “markers” for some future negotiations on immigration reform. Also, while it might not happen in my liftetime, history suggests that the Democrats are no more permanently “dead” as a party than the GOP was after the first Obama election and Democratic surge into power in the Executive and Legislative Branches.
The last time Democrats were in power, the Latino/Hispanic voters who had helped put them there were treated as largely non-existent. Indeed, the Obama Administration ran the U.S. Immigration Courts largely as if they were an extension of the Bush Administration, giving the advocacy community the cold shoulder, enacting zero reforms, and pitching a “near shutout” on outside appointments to the Immigration Court and the BIA over which they had total control.
The next time Democrats come into power, it would be wise of the groups that will help put them there to insist on the types of specific reforms and improvements that the Democrats are now articulating in “can’t pass” legislative proposals. And, in addition to doing something for Dreamers and other migrants who are contributing to our society, meaningful Immigration Court reform to remove it from Executive Branch control needs to be high on the list. Realistically, that’s probably going to require some bipartisan cooperation, participation, and support.
I also disagree with Nolan’s suggestion that it would not be in the national interest to let “Dreamers” stay. Of course, it would be strongly in our national interest to fully incorporate these fine young folks into our society so that they could achieve their full potential and we could get the full benefit of their talents, skills, and courage.
I had a steady stream of DACA applicants coming through my court in Arlington. Sure, some of them had problems, and DHS did a good job of weeding those folks out and/or revoking status if problems arose. But, the overwhelming majority were fine young people who either already were making significant contributions to our society or who were well positioned to do so in the future. Indeed, they were indistinguishable from their siblings and classsmates who had the good fortune to be born in the U.S., except perhaps that they often had to work a little harder and show a little more drive to overcome some of the inaccurate negative stereotypes about undocumented migrants and some of the disabilities imposed on them.