The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would cancel and prohibit removal proceedings and provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 2.5 million immigrants. The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which passed by a vote of 237 to 187, is geared toward protecting foreign nationals who entered the United States when they were under 18 (often referred to as “Dreamers”) and those granted humanitarian protections under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Despite bipartisan support, the bill is not expected to pass the U.S. Senate in its current form.
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019
The bill would provide permanent legal status, and ultimately a pathway to citizenship, to Dreamers, TPS holders, and DED beneficiaries, though it does so in different ways for these groups.
For Dreamers, the bill would:
- cancel removal proceedings against certain foreign nationals who entered the United States before turning 18; and
- grant conditional permanent resident status for 10 years. Those with conditional status could apply for permanent residency (without conditions) at any time if they:
- receive a college degree (or complete two years of a bachelor’s degree or in a technical program);
- serve two years in the military; or
- work for three years.
In order to qualify for these benefits, Dreamers would be required to demonstrate the following:
- They arrived in the United States before turning 18.
- They have been continuously present in the United States for at least four years.
- They have not been convicted of a felony.
- They have not been convicted of a misdemeanor with a sentence of more than six months or three separate misdemeanors.
- They have completed high school, received a GED, or are attending high school or a GED program.
TPS and DED beneficiaries, on the other hand, would be immediately eligible to apply for permanent residence if they can demonstrate that they have been physically present in the United States for at least three continuous years. They would then be eligible to apply for citizenship after five years, as is the case for most green card holders.
The bill has no immediate impact and is not likely to be passed in the Senate in its current form. This means the status quo remains in effect. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients are permitted to continue to renew their status while the litigation challenging the termination of DACA works its way through the courts. TPS and DED protections have also been extended pending the outcome of their respective legal challenges.
Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with the proposed legislation and will post updates on our immigration blog as additional information becomes available.