House Democrats prepare votes on immigration bills

March 18, 2021
In The News

WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Democrats are set to pass a series of sweeping immigration reforms on Thursday. The vote comes as the crisis worsens at the southern border.

Two bills are on the table. The first: a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 4.4 million TPS (temporary protected status) recipients; and DREAMers, who are undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

The second bill would allow farm workers and their families to earn legal status by working in the agricultural industry, and reform the nation’s guest worker program.

“The United States needs to address comprehensive immigration reform and create a pathway and solid federal policy that allows people to become citizens,” said Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii).

Both are expected to pass along party lines. The votes come as republicans are heavily criticizing the Biden administration’s handling of the surge in illegal border crossings, the highest number in 20 years.

“There is no place like America, no place like America. But you’ve got to do it safely. You’ve got to do it responsibly,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.).

“These bills that they’re putting forward are moving people that come into our country illegally to the front of the line,” said Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.).

During a Congressional hearing Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas refused to call the issue a “crisis” and is defending their handling of the situation.

“A crisis is when a nation is willing to rip a nine-year-old child out of the hands of his or her parent and separate that family to deter future migration,” Mayorkas said.

Back on Capitol Hill, Thursday’s votes are the first major steps toward immigration reform under the Democratic majority in Congress. But they are not expected to pass the Senate, given little Republican support.

A comprehensive bill could establish a pathway to citizenship or legal status for up to 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. President Biden promised comprehensive immigration reform during the 2020 presidential campaign.