This week I was proud to join my colleagues in voting for the passage of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, a bill that will provide a pathway to permanent legal status for our Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) residents who contribute to – and strengthen our country – every day. This legislation was simply about basic principles and what we need to do to make us a more united America – whether we kick out our young hopefuls, or treat them as we’d want our children to be treated.
In 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded the DACA program, removing protections for close to 800,000 Dreamers, and 200,000 Californians. The Administration has also attempted to terminate TPS and DED humanitarian programs that provide protections and sanctuary for refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution.
The American Dream and Promise Act provides a pathway to legal permanent status for Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 18, and have been in the country for at least four years prior to the bill’s date of enactment. The legislation also provides a pathway for TPS and DED holders who have lived in the U.S. for a minimum of three years, and it has stringent bars for eligibility related to national security and criminal activity. Individuals who have repeatedly broken the law or present a risk to national security are not eligible.
The key number in the House of Representatives is ‘218.’ That’s the number it takes to win passage of any legislation. On the final vote of H.R. 6, as the voting climbed towards this number, you could feel the anticipation and excitement grow. When we hit 218 the gallery burst out in applause, cheers and tears. I couldn’t help but join them in their celebration, chanting “sí se puede” with my colleagues on the House floor.
I was elected to Congress to help people – not hurt them, and I will continue to fight for our Dreamers, TPS, and DED holders not only in my District, but throughout our nation. They’re just as American as my own children.
Republicans and Democrats alike know that our immigration system is broken. American producers – from our farmers and ranchers to high-tech firms are struggling to hire and retain the workforce they need to sustain and grow our economy. For many though, this broken system has become a source of fear, as many live every day under the threat of being torn apart from their families and communities where they’ve lived and worked for years.
In my Congressional District alone there are an estimated 7,400 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, and nearly 12,000 more individuals that are DACA eligible. In economic terms alone, the loss from deporting DACA workers from the 21st Congressional District would be more than $400,000,000 annually. We must continue to fight and work for sensible and comprehensive immigration reform.