On March 18th, the House of Representatives gave bipartisan approval to two bills providing over 4 million immigrants with a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship.
The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 would legalize eligible “Dreamers” and DACA holders (immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors) and individuals who have had Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for years, who are already vital members of our communities and workforce. The bill would give over 3 million people stability and the promise of a permanent future here in the U.S. Nine Republicans voted with all the House Democrats to pass the bill.
The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 would give legal status to over one million eligible undocumented farmworkers who work tirelessly, even at the risk of their health during COVID, to get food to our tables. It would also improve the the H-2A agricultural worker visa process, simplifying it for farmers, increasing worker protections for H-2A farm workers, and creating urgently needed new year-round visas for dairy workers. Thirty Republicans joined virtually all the Democrats voting in support of the bill. Maine’s Representative Pingree voted in favor, and Representative Golden was the sole Democrat to vote “nay.”
The bills will now move over to the Senate, where they are expected to be a priority for advancement.
Polls show overwhelming public support for legalizing Dreamers and DACA holders, and TPS and undocumented immigrants generally.
But opponents of these bills are trying to derail them by focusing on the southern border. You can find context and data to give perspective on what’s happening on the southern border here.
Maine has hundreds of DACA and TPS holders as well as undocumented farm workers who are our neighbors, friends, essential workers, volunteers, consumers and taxpayers, whose high workforce participation and contributions on the front lines support our public health and economic recovery from COVID-19. But without a path to permanent residency, every day they face the fear of being ripped from their families and their Maine communities where they have put down roots and that they call “home”.
Even during the pandemic, Maine’s employers aren’t able to find enough workers. Passing the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is an investment in Maine’s people and in Maine’s economic future.
The Maine Compact on Immigration, signed by nearly 100 Maine businesses, chambers of commerce, trade associations and higher education institutions, calls on Maine’s Congressional delegation to lead on urgently needed federal immigration reform. Maine’s business community will look to Senators Collins and King to ensure that the Senate versions of these House bills make it over the finish line.