– The Washington Times – Tuesday, March 12, 2019
House Democrats upped their ante on illegal immigration Tuesday, announcing new legislation that would not only grant legal status to potentially millions of illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” but adds hundreds of thousands of more migrants to the mix.
Dreamers would be eligible for in-state college tuition and taxpayer-backed financial aid, would get new protections against swift deportation, and would have a “direct” pathway to citizenship.
Even some already-deported illegal immigrants would be allowed to apply to return under the bill, announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats in a rally at the Capitol.
“There should be nothing partisan or political in this legislation,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
The bill goes beyond the Dream Act, legislation that’s been kicking around for nearly two decades, which would offer a path to citizenship to as many as 2 million illegal immigrants.
The updated version would also grant a pathway to citizenship to hundreds of thousands of people here under Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure.
Those are both types of humanitarian protections designed to give people a temporary safe place in the U.S. — along with work permits and some other taxpayer benefits — while their home countries recover from natural disasters, instability or wars.
Yet over the decades, those protections have become semi-permanent. The average TPS holder has been in the U.S. 20 years at this point.
Democrats said they’ve put down roots, and asking them to return now is unfair.
“We are not going to let Donald Trump send them back, putting their lives in peril or tearing their families apart,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat.
She and fellow Democrats said those to whom they’re offering citizenship rights are already American in most ways, save for their illegal entry or continued iffy legal status.
Dream Act legislation has been on the cusp of passage before, clearing the House in 2010 but defeated in the Senate by a GOP filibuster that year.
Last year, President Trump floated several different deals that would have granted some more permanent legal status to Dreamers, but Democrats and some Republicans said he was asking for too much in return with his demand for border wall money, limits to family-based immigrant visas and an end to the visa lottery.
Those negotiations took place under a GOP-led Congress.
“We are in charge now,” Rep. Mark Takano, California Democrat, said Tuesday, underscoring why Democrats are optimistic they can win a legalization without also having to embrace Mr. Trump’s get-tough policies.