The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
The Dream and Promise Act: An Inspiring Step Forward on Immigrant Rights
By UUSC Staff on March 14, 2019
On March 12, Congresswomen Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Velazquez (NY-7), and Clarke (NY-9) led members of the House of Representatives in introducing the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6), a bold piece of legislation that would create a path to citizenship for more than 2 million people whose legal immigration status has been jeopardized by the Trump administration. UUSC applauds this inspiring bill and the more than 200 members of Congress who have already joined as co-sponsors. We call for the introduction of equivalent legislation in the Senate and the prompt passage of the legislation into law.
The House’s congressional action with the Dream and Promise Act is urgently needed. During his first two years in office, the President has moved to cancel a series of immigration programs that provide life-saving protection and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people in the United States: including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The cancellation of these programs was likely influenced by the President’s expressed racist views about immigrants of color, and form part of a larger discriminatory agenda that has routinely violated the human rights of immigrants from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and the Caribbean.
Federal courts across the country have issued decisions to overrule many of these actions because of their clear due process violations and discriminatory intent and effect. Similarly, UUSC’s partner the UndocuBlack Network co-led a lawsuit this week to challenge the administration’s racially-motivated termination of DED status for Liberians. Such crucial and timely judicial action, however, can only provide temporary relief. To provide permanent protections and follow through on the promises the United States has made to these individuals, congressional action is necessary.
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 creates a path to conditional permanent residency, lawful permanent residency, and eventual citizenship for DACA recipients and DED and TPS holders. Further, this legislation provides urgently needed protections for people at imminent risk, without trading their rights in exchange for policies that will harm other members of our communities. Unlike some DACA and TPS fixes that Congress has proposed in the past, this bill does not include any dangerous provisions that would further militarize the U.S.-Mexico border or restrict access to asylum for people fleeing violence.
If Congress does not move quickly to pass the Dream and Promise Act, the consequences are dire. More than a million DACA recipients and DED and TPS holders have placed their trust in the good faith of the U.S. government, sharing their information with authorities and institutions in order to build their lives for years, if not decades. In many cases the United States is the only home they have ever known. They are beloved parents, friends, business owners, workers, and members of our shared communities, thousands of whom emigrated to the United States to flee dangerous conditions in their countries of origin and depend on these programs to survive and support their families.
Furthermore, thousands of beneficiaries of these programs have U.S. citizen children. If their protections are allowed to expire, family members face either living apart from one another or moving to a country they may have never known. In both cases their ability to live lives with their human rights fully recognized is limited. By removing these protections, the Trump administration has created a false choice between one’s country and living in safety together with one’s family.
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 creates a path to permanent status in the United States for DACA, DED, and TPS holders, and through its introduction, Congress is working to uphold the universal human rights to life, safety, and family unity. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person,” and “family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” The House’s Dream and Promise Act of 2019 promises to bring our nation’s laws into closer alignment with that vision.
Photo Credit: iStock – ZekaG