Filipino-American California congressman TJ Cox has joined other Democrats in the House of Representatives to introduce a bill that offers 2.5 million immigrants a chance at permanent status.
The bill HR-6 or the "Dream and Promise Act" combines the longstanding Dream Act, a legalization bill for unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children, with a proposal to allow some immigrants with temporary humanitarian protections and deferred enforced departure holders to apply for permanent legal status.
“In the past, Republicans have joined Democrats in supporting commonsense legislation like today’s bill. I’m committed to fighting for our Dreamers, TPS, and DED holders – they’re just as American as my children. That is why I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 – legislation that would protect these Americans from the President’s ongoing attempts to take away their protected status," Cox said in a statement.
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard also of California introduced the bill. She said this updated legislation will give Dreamers access to in-state tuition and federal student financial aid.
“That is why our state leads the way in supporting our dreamers and benefiting from their contribution as our vital force in our state’s vibrant and inclusive economy, the fifth largest in the world," she said.
Roybal-Allard said her district has the largest number of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and DACA eligible population with 16,800.
In Cox's 21st District, he said there's about 7,400 DACA recipients and about 12,000 are eligible. The economic loss from his district alone, if DACA workers are deported, he said would exceed more than US$400 million annually.
"Once we pass this bill, we will fight for a comprehensive fix to our broken immigration system, which embraces the contribution of all of our newcomers. There should be nothing partisan or political in this legislation," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But Republicans have said that a standalone Dreamer bill has no chance to pass in the Senate. The White House and most Republicans have endorsed an immigration bill proposal before only in exchange for billions of dollars in border security.
In previous years, the Dream Act was accepted by a wide range of Senate Republicans.
Former Pennsylvania state congressman Jeff Coleman, a Republican, said this bill faces an even more uphill battle.
"I think it is going to be difficult for them to get a fair hearing," he said.
In 2017, President Donald Trump tried to terminate DACA, but was blocked by a federal appeals court.
Read more on Balitang America.