The House voted Thursday on two immigration bills, part of the Biden administration’s effort to make sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system, a goal complicated by the surge of migrants, including unaccompanied children, arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The first bill, the American Dream and Promise Act, which passed 228 to 197, would create a path for citizenship for the approximately 2.5 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, known as “Dreamers.” It also provides a path to citizenship for about 400,000 immigrants who were granted Temporary Protective Status (TPS), which is given to those who fled 10 designated nations because of dangerous conditions.
Nine Republicans broke ranks and joined all Democrats in backing the measure. The Republicans who voted for the bill were Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), David G. Valadao (Calif.), Fred Upton (Mich.), Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Christopher H. Smith (N.J.), Carlos A. Gimenez (Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.).
The second bill, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would provide a path for immigrant farmworkers to get a green card. The House passed the bill in a 247-to-174 vote. Thirty Republicans voted in favor and one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden (Maine), voted against the bill.
“These parents bring their children, their hopes and dreams and aspirations for a better future for their children,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who spoke on the issue for eight hours straight in 2018. “That courage, that determination, those aspirations are American traits, and they all make America more American with all of that. Indeed, they are true and legitimate heirs, these Dreamers are, of our Founders.”
But hope for a bipartisan compromise on immigration reform legislation, which has been elusive for Congress for decades, has faded as the situation at the border worsens and Republicans have pointed to the Biden administration’s handling of it as a reason to not move forward on this legislation.
“I rise in strong opposition to this amnesty bill and if you look at what’s happening at our southern border right now, America’s facing a serious crisis, our southern border is being overrun,” said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).