House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has promised that the House of Representatives will pass legislation next year that will put Dreamers — young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — on a pathway to citizenship.
Pelosi is attempting to secure her position as Speaker of the House when her party retakes control of the House in January. Members of the Democratic Caucus have asked her to hold votes in the House to codify protections for the Dreamers who have been the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They also want legislation passed in January to help immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Pelosi issued a statement over the weekend, as a response to a letter sent last week by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
In the statement she wrote:
“America draws strength from our long, proud heritage as a nation of immigrants. In the Majority, Democrats will work to reverse the Republicans’ destructive anti-immigrant agenda. Our House Democratic Majority will once again pass the Dream Act to end the uncertainty and fear inflicted on patriotic young men and women across the country.”
“We will protect TPS recipients and those fleeing unimaginable violence.”
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, of New York, one of the members of Congress who signed the letter to Pelosi, said that Democrats should move ahead “expeditiously” in January to pass bills that shield Dreamers and TPS holders from deportation. She added that Democrats should pass these laws without providing any funding for a wall on the southern border. Donald Trump and other Republicans have said wall funding must be included in any bipartisan immigration proposal or to extend DACA protection.
“I think the Dream Act should be taken on alone, with no poison pills attached to it,” Espaillat said, expressing the views of many other Democrats in the House. She also said that Democrats should pass the immigration bills within the first 100 days of the next session.
“These young people are still in limbo,” Espaillat said. “Had it not been for the courts, they would probably be underground, they would be in the shadows.”
Donald Trump has tried to dismantle the DACA program which has helped over 800,000 undocumented immigrants. He has lost court cases, however, and thus he has not been successful in killing the program.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this year announced that they plan to terminate the TPS programs for El Salvador, Honduras, Sudan and Haiti, but a federal judge blocked that decision in October. The government has appealed the TPS court ruling and urged the Supreme Court to hear the DACA case.
In her statement, Pelosi also said that committees in the House will fully investigate Trump’s practice of forcibly separating migrant children from parents who enter the U.S. without proper documentation and are arrested and incarcerated under last spring’s “zero tolerance” policy.
“We will hold the Trump Administration accountable for their inhuman policy of separating families, and the trauma and anguish they have inflicted on vulnerable children and families at our border,” Pelosi said.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also told Pelosi that they want passing comprehensive immigration reform to be a priority when Democrats take control of the House. The Latino lawmakers said that they want new provisions to allow deported U.S. military veterans to come back to the country, end “the militarization” of the southern border, reunify still-separated migrant families and provide a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S.
“These hardworking, taxpaying undocumented workers have enriched our country, while contributing their knowledge, traditions, and intellect to the fabric of our culture. They are part of America’s economic engine,” the leaders of the Hispanic Caucus wrote in their letter.
Nancy Pelosi’s statement on immigration policies is an extremely important document. It shows everyone in the country that Democrats will waste no time in passing important legislation when they take House control next year.
Republicans have said that all Democrats want to do is attack Donald Trump, but this is not true. They will be passing bills that are important to the American people. Pelosi has already said she plans to have the House vote on anti-corruption legislation, and pro-democracy, healthcare and infrastructure bills in addition to immigration.
The American people sent Democrats to Washington to take control and get things done, and they are already starting to do that.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.