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House Joins Senate in Offering Dreamers a Path to Citizenship

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FILE - A protester holds a sign during a "Here to Stay" rally at the Irish Famine Memorial in Boston, July 6, 2017. U.S. lawmakers have introduced legislation to all a path to citizenship for immigrants brought into the U.S. as children.

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would give undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children a chance to earn permanent residency.

Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced Wednesday the legislation that would protect the group of people known as DREAMers by also giving them a path to U.S. citizenship.

The bill mirrors the bipartisan effort introduced in the Senate last week by Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Lindsey Graham.

FILE - Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference opposed to immigration raids targeting Central American families with children, in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016.
FILE - Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference opposed to immigration raids targeting Central American families with children, in Washington, Jan. 12, 2016.

“This bicameral DREAM Act is the most progressive yet, and moves the ball forward for protecting DREAMers, individuals who have built their lives here and call no other country their home,” Roybal-Allard said.

Ros-Lehtinen said the focus of the bill is to “keep the best and brightest in our country and improve our shared home,” and that the people it would help have for too long lived with the fear of deportation.

Obama program

Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. instituted a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed people to apply for a temporary reprieve from deportation and allow them to work legally. More than 750,000 people are registered under DACA, which does not include a path to citizenship.

The proposed legislation includes requirements for background checks, demonstrated proficiency in English, graduation from high school, and the pursuit of higher education, military service or holding a job for at least three years.

Legal challenges

It comes at a time when DACA is facing potential legal challenges.

A group of 10 Republican state officials have said they will sue the Trump administration if it does not rescind DACA by Sept. 5.

Earlier this month, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a closed-door meeting that while he personally supports DACA, he does not think it would stand up to a legal challenge.

President Trump came to office on a platform that included strengthening the country’s borders and a promise to immediately end DACA, but he has since said his priority for immigration enforcement would be targeting people who have committed crimes.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), flanked by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), right, talks about possible legislation for so-called "dreamer" immigrant children during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, July 20, 2017.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), flanked by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), right, talks about possible legislation for so-called "dreamer" immigrant children during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol, July 20, 2017.

Durbin said in announcing his bill with Graham that the two senators are “actively engaged with the White House people ... trying to find the middle ground.”

“These DACA kids have come out of the shadows at the invitation of the government,” Graham said. “We do not pull the rug out from under them.”

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