On March 26, 2019, two important bills were introduced in the Senate.
The Dream Act of 2019, introduced by Senators Lindsay Graham and Dick Durbin, would provide a path to permanent residency for immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and for whom the U.S. is their only true home. It would include those who currently hold Deferred Action for Childhood (DACA) status, and those who have been unable to obtain DACA since the administration terminated the program in September 2017. Polls consistently show that more than three-quarters of the U.S. public support allowing this population to apply for permanent status in the U.S., and in the past, there has also been bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.
The Safe Environment from Countries Under Repression and in Emergency (SECURE) Act would allow those who have lived, worked and put down roots in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs, the majority of whom have lived here for at least 20 years, to apply for permanent residency.
Earlier in March, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 was introduced in the House of Representatives to provide an avenue towards permanent residency for these same populations. Neither of the Senate bills has been printed as of this writing, so it’s too early to tell how closely the bills echo each other.
Over 1.1 million individuals currently have only court injunctions standing between them and the loss of their ability to live and work legally in the U.S. after the administration terminated DACA and determined that it would not extend TPS for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan. Maine has hundreds of DACA and TPS holders who are part of our communities and our workforce.
Legislation to finally eliminate their uncertainty and to provide eligible Dreamers, TPS and DED holders with a permanent future in the U.S. is the right thing to do from a humane and values perspective, and also for our economy. Business leaders, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CEOs from some of the nation’s largest companies, are on the same side as organized labor in supporting this effort.
Maine businesses should join them in urging Congress to get this done in 2019.