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Lipinski Statement on H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act

 

WASHINGTON, DC - Today,  I helped introduce the Dream and Promise Act to allow Dreamers to contribute fully to the United States by granting them a pathway to citizenship. While there are many parts of our immigration system that need fixing, this bill addresses a critical issue of immigrants who were brought to the United States as children without legal documents through no fault of their own. Dreamers must first gain conditional permanent residency and then permanent residency status before they can apply for citizenship. In order for Dreamers to gain conditional permanent resident status for up to 10 years, they must, among other requirements, graduate from high school, obtain a GED or industry recognized credential, or be working their way toward obtaining that status. To gain permanent residency, they must complete at least two years in good standing of post-secondary education; serve for at least two years in the military with an honorable discharge; or be employed for at least three years and at least 75 percent of the time that they have employment authorization. As a former educator, the education provisions in this bill are especially important to me because they encourage prioritization of education and learning. The legislation also takes into consideration security and law enforcement by requiring background checks for Dreamers applying for the benefits of this bill. Applicants who engaged in serious criminal activity are ineligible for the new citizenship pathway.

 

This bill also responds to the needs of people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status, which are protections the U.S. provides to nationals from countries experiencing unstable or dangerous conditions such as armed conflict and natural disaster. While TPS is technically a temporary status, the average TPS recipient has been in the United States for 20 years. This bill would provide for permanent resident status for people of any age with TPS and DED status, which is a reasonable outcome for those who’ve been productive members of our society for more than two decades on average. Eligibility is limited to people who were eligible for TPS/DED status on or before September 2016 and were in the US for a continuous period of at least 3 years prior to enactment.

 

I have been fighting for years to reform our immigration system so that it reflects the priorities of the United States and the American people by making sure immigrants and immigration applicants are treated with dignity, while at the same time keeping our borders secured. This bill does not address all of these needs, but it does show us a possible path forward on a key humanitarian issue. Congress must move forward with considering realistic, sensible measures that both fix current immigration problems and prevent them from reoccurring later.