The House Judiciary Committee has passed legislation along party lines that would protect “Dreamers” — immigrants who arrived in the U.S. without legal permission as minors — and certain other undocumented immigrants.
The measure, which was split into two separate bills (H.R. 2820 and H.R. 2821) for the committee vote on Wednesday, would allow Dreamers to be eligible for federal student aid programs and permit certain individuals deported by the Trump administration to apply for relief, according to the American Council on Education (ACE). It would potentially benefit millions of Dreamers, including more than 700,000 protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ACE said.
President Trump attempted to rescind DACA in September 2017 but was blocked by a federal appeals court. Subsequent court decisions also have blocked the move.
The Judiciary Committee’s approval opens the path for a full House vote on the proposals. However, the journey for any similar legislation in the Senate is likely to be tougher. The White House, meanwhile, is pushing for a merit-based immigration system.
Earlier this week, ACE sent a letter supporting the legislation to House committee leaders. Several higher education associations, including the American Association of Community Colleges, signed on to the letter.
“The Dream Act of 2019 would allow some undocumented young people, high-achieving individuals who contribute to our nation’s economy and security, to earn lawful permanent residence in the United States and a path to citizenship,” it said.
The National Education Association lauded the committee’s vote, noting it also would help an estimated 37,000 immigrant educators currently working in public schools.
“Without a permanent solution that provides a pathway to citizenship, not only will teachers and students be removed from classrooms, our educators’ lose their ability to support their families, pay their mortgages, even lose their employer-provided health insurance, and, most alarmingly, they are exposed to deportation,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement.