The United States House of Representatives has passed two immigration bills that would pave the way for millions of people to become citizens
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed two bills that would give millions of undocumented immigrants, including those brought to the country as children and farm workers illegally, a path to citizenship or legal status.
The bill was mostly approved along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against it. The bills are less comprehensive than the comprehensive immigration plan introduced in February with President Joe Biden's support. Even so, they face an uphill battle in the Senate, where they will need 10 Republicans to vote for every Democrat in order to pass.
Recent developments have complicated a bipartisan agreement on immigration, which is a top priority for the Biden administration. Republicans also taken advantage of an increase in unaccompanied minors detained at the US-Mexico border to push for stricter immigration compliance.
Customs and Border Protection has custody of about 4,500 children, the bulk of whom are housed in a facility in Donna, Texas, according to an administration official. More unaccompanied children are being welcomed into the United States under Biden's administration than under Trump's, who quickly deported minors seeking entry into the nation.
“I can say very clearly: Don't come,” Biden said in a televised interview on ABC on Tuesday, adding that “we're in the process of getting set up, don't leave your town, city, or community.” Although declining to label the situation a "crisis" or "emergency," the administration has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in sheltering and relocating the minors to more humane facilities. An unnamed administration official told reporters on Wednesday that the issue predates the Biden administration and that legislation is required to fix it.
“This is a government-wide initiative. We are currently handling the situation, but the harm that has been done will take time to repair,” the official said. “We will need to collaborate with Congress to pass an immigration bill so that we can introduce and enforce more sensible laws.” The American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act are the two bills that were passed on Thursday.
The first will primarily affect immigrants covered under former President Barack Obama's 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as Dreamers. According to the law's founders, some 2.5 million immigrants who arrived in the United States as children will be qualified for a path to citizenship. The bill was approved by a vote of 228 to 197, with nine Republicans joining Democrats in support.
The second bill will give farm workers who are in the country illegally a path to legal citizenship, which is projected to be at least half of the sector's 2.4 million workers. Any agricultural workers would be eligible for a green card if they paid a fine and stayed in the sector for another four to eight years, depending on how long they had previously worked on farms. It was approved by a vote of 247 to 174, with 30 Republicans voting in favor and one Democrat voting against it.
The bills aren't as comprehensive as Biden's immigration plan, the United States Citizenship Act of 2021, that would have provided a citizenship pathway for the majority of the country's 11 million illegal immigrants. In recent days, both Democratic and Republican leaders have stated that such a broad initiative would have little chance of winning bipartisan support. Early Thursday, the White House officially endorsed both bills in comments that also urged lawmakers to move ahead with the Citizenship Act.
In statements released early Thursday, the White House officially endorsed both bills and urged lawmakers to move ahead with the Citizenship Act. Recent developments have complicated a bipartisan agreement on immigration, which is a top priority for the Biden administration. Republicans also taken advantage of an increase in unaccompanied minors detained at the US-Mexico border to push for stricter immigration compliance.