BY JOSÉ ARNULFO CABRERA | March 26, 2021
On Thursday, March 18, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 by 228-197 votes. The American Dream and Promise Act, or H.R. 6, will create a pathway to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, undocumented youth, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. This is the second time the House of Representatives has passed H.R. 6.
In the Senate, instead of a bill similar to H.R. 6, two separate bills are under consideration that will give TPS holders, undocumented youth, and DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship. The Dream Act will create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and undocumented youth. The SECURE Act will create a pathway to citizenship for TPS holders. Both the Dream Act and SECURE Act will need 60 votes to pass the Senate.
Many organizations have celebrated the passage of H.R. 6, but when I’ve spoken with DACA recipients, most, if not all, didn’t feel the same amount of excitement or feelings of celebration as the first time it passed in the House. They just felt déjà vu and the expectedness of joy from organizations and white allies.
Since 2000, different versions of the Dream Act legislation have been introduced in Congress. IA handful of times, the Dream Act has passed in either the House or Senate, and then failed to pass or was even not allowed a vote in the respective chamber. Every time, there’s a rush to organize, advocate, and plead with people to support the bill. Today, with Democrats holding a slim majority in the Senate, the Dream Act and SECURE Act need ten Republicans to support and vote for the bills in order to pass. And that is only if all the Senate Democrats vote for both bills. DACA recipients have seen this political reality far too often. They saw it last year when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, and then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly said many times he would not allow a vote for the Dream Act in the Senate.
DACA recipients are emotionally tired. As a former DACA recipient, I’m tired of the same story. But we won’t stop fighting for a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. Whether it’s H.R. 6, the Dream Act and SECURE Act, or the U.S. Citizenship Act, we will continue to fight for a pathway to citizenship. Our work toward the Senate will be tough, but not impossible. We all must put pressure on the Senate to support and pass the Dream Act and the SECURE Act together!
José Arnulfo Cabrera is the director of education and advocacy for migration for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. He is a 2018 graduate of Xavier University, a DACA recipient, and an immigration activist. He previously worked with the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he provided training on lobbying, organizing, and immigration policy, as well as shared his own immigration story, and as a government relations associate with NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice in Washington, D.C.