Upton joins Dems to offer ‘dreamers’ path to citizenship

Rally for Dreamers | Pax Ahimsa Gethen, Wikimedia Commons

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) was one of seven Republicans who joined with Democrats in the U.S. House on Tuesday to pass a bill that aims to give up to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The legislation — a top priority for House Democrats — would offer protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and others who are currently without permanent legal status.

U.S.. Rep. Fred Upton | Andrew Roth

House Resolution 6, called the “American Dream and Promise Act,” passed on largely partisan lines by a vote of 237-187. Michigan’s delegation was split 8-6 on party lines, aside from Upton.

“It’s long past time for Congress to address our broken immigration system, and I have repeatedly made it clear that I support a permanent solution for DACA recipients,” Upton said in a statement to the Advance. “These young men and women came to our country through no fault of their own and are contributing to our communities.

Upton said that HR 6 “is far from perfect” and noted he voted to add a provision that was blocked which “would have strengthened tools to identify, block and deport bad actors trying to take advantage of the immigration relief provided in the bill.”

But he said the bill would “provide much-needed certainty to DREAMERS and for those living in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program. I hope today’s vote prompts bipartisan discussions on better solutions to reform our immigration system and secure our borders.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell | Andrew Roth

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) said the bill gives Dreamers who came to the U.S. as children and are Americans in so many ways – from paying taxes, serving in the military, strong members of the community – a pathway to citizenship.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) said he’s “pleased to see Congress act to fix our broken immigration system.

“DREAMers, young children who were brought to this country by their parents through no fault of their own, are Americans in every way except on paper. We cannot turn our back on them. DREAMers already contribute greatly to our economy, including working and paying taxes.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee | Andrew Roth

The vote comes after the Trump administration announced plans to end an Obama administration program to protect young immigrants — known as “dreamers” — from deportation.

The House legislation would also offer a pathway to citizenship for immigrants with temporary protections, known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

“Protecting Dreamers and TPS and DED Americans is about honoring the respect for family that is at the heart of our faith and who we are as Americans,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference ahead of the vote. “There should be nothing partisan or political about this legislation.”

Rally for undocumented immigrants in Detroit | Ken Coleman

Michigan is home to 20,100 immigrants who are eligible for protection under the Dream and Promise Act, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. Eligible immigrants and their households contribute $152.2 million in federal taxes and $77.6 million in state and local taxes each year.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, accused the Trump administration of putting immigrants’ “lives in limbo” and called the bill’s passage “a historic moment for the nation and for each of the 2.5 million individuals who have built their lives here and deserve a long-term legislative solution.”

Donald Trump | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

In previous years, legislative efforts to grant protections to undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors have been bipartisan. But this effort appears unlikely to gain support in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, given the partisanship that currently defines the immigration debate.

Many House Republicans warned that Democrats were wasting their time on legislation that’s dead on arrival in the Senate, while others warned that it encourages immigrants to break the law.

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) portrayed the measure as “an amnesty bill to reward and incentivize the lawlessness besieging our country.”

The White House has issued a veto threat against the bill.

Robin Bravender
Michigan native Robin Bravender is the DC Bureau Chief for the Newsroom, a consortium of 10 nonprofit news publications, including the Michigan Advance. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.

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