This week, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced an updated Dream Act that gives hope and dignity to aspiring new Americans while aiming to provide a pathway to citizenship for the millions of individuals known as “Dreamers” who came to the United States as minors.
The introduction of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6) reflects the tireless work of legislators, students, activists, and organizations on behalf of immigrants. Together, these advocates are exhibiting their respect and concern for Dreamers and other beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) from ongoing attacks by the Trump administration.
“The American people elected a new Democratic majority that would uphold our values of liberty, justice and opportunity,” said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
1. What Will the Bill Accomplish?
President Trump recklessly terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2017 which left thousands of students, teachers, members of the military and working families in limbo and under the threat of deportation. He also revoked TPS, which protects immigrants from countries deemed unsafe due to armed conflict, natural disaster, epidemic or other extraordinary conditions. Both programs provided work permits and stability families who have strong roots in the U.S. The new proposal offers young immigrants and TPS holders a path to citizenship while upholding U.S. values of welcoming immigrants and their many social, economic, and cultural contributions to the nation.
2. Why Pass the Bill Now?
The bill would help approximately 3.6 million Dreamers, including the 800,000 who have been shielded from deportation and granted a work permit under DACA. The legislation provides protection and certainty to our neighbors, friends, many who are students and educators in our schools. The bill not only helps families stay together and secure long-term economic stability, but also enables thousands of students to pursue their education and career goals by opening financial aid and college loans.
3. How Does the Bill Affect Students and Educators?
Under current law, without H.R. 6 in place, some educators and students will lose their protected status. Consequently, educators will lose their work permits. These losses will cause the removal of hundreds of thousands of teachers, education support professionals (ESP) and others from schools and classrooms. In addition, educators will lose their ability to support their families, pay their mortgages, and maintain their employer-provided health insurance. Ultimately, they will be at risk for deportation.
By the numbers:
- The Migration Policy Institute estimates that there are about a quarter-million students who are DACA-eligible since the program went into effect in 2012.
- According to public data, there are approximately 9,000 educators working in our nation’s public schools who are DACA recipients.
- Millions of students enrolled in public schools are children of unauthorized immigrants according to the Pew Research Center.
- In California alone, more than 50,000 children were born in the U.S. but have Salvadoran parents who face deportation due to losing their TPS.
- According to the Center for Migration Studies, about 1,400 Salvadoran teachers in the United States have humanitarian Temporary Protection Status.
- The American Immigration Council notes that there are about 1,000 Haitians working as educators in K-12 schools in the United States.
4. How is the 2019 Dreamer bill different from the last version?
California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who co-authored the original Dream Act in 2001, said the updated legislation will give Dreamers access to in-state tuition and federal student financial aid. It will also permit eligible Dreamers who were deported by the Trump administration to apply for relief. “Our bill contains a number of provisions that make it more progressive and pragmatic than previous versions of the Dream Act,” said Roybal-Allard, a co-sponsor of the new bill. “I have seen the pain and fear the Trump administration has had on Dreamers and their families.”
5. How can I Make my Voice Heard?
NEA calls on Congress to quickly pass the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 and is committed to continuing to work with friends and allies to stand up to the Trump administration’s attacks on the safety and wellbeing of immigrant families.
“Trump’s treatment of them is inhumane, cruel, and contrary to the values that we hold dear as a nation,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.