NEW YORK, NY – Today the United States Senate reintroduced the Dream Act of 2019 and the SECURE Act of 2019, bipartisan bills that would put immigrants brought to the United States as youth and recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) on a road to permanent residency and citizenship. This comes just a week after the United States House of Representatives introduced similar legislation known as the Dream and Promise Act.
Anu Joshi, Senior Director of Immigrant Rights Policy, issued the following statement:
“For 18 months, more than 80,000 New Yorkers – DACA recipients, recipients of Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure – have been held in limbo by the Trump Administration, who has cruelly used them as political pawns in the President’s sick game. We're encouraged that the Senate is following the lead of the House in advancing common sense legislation that would extend permanent protection and opportunity for almost two million people and their families. There is broad consensus among Americans for both the Dream Act and Secure Act of 2019, and it’s time our elected officials pass legislation that protects people without hurting our communities.”
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would allow those who came to this country at 17 or younger, and who meet certain school or work requirements and pass a criminal background check (among other qualifications) to apply for a conditional permanent residency status. After completing further work or school requirements, individuals with this conditional permanent residency status would be able to apply for legal permanent residence (LPR) status. Additionally, the bill would allow those who had or who were eligible for Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure as of September 2016 and who have been in the country continuously for at least three years to apply for LPR status. After a period of five years in LPR status, both groups would be eligible to apply for citizenship.
Eighteen months ago, then U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In the interim, Congress debated many proposals to provide a permanent legislative solution to ensure DREAMers would continue to be protected. Ultimately, lacking strong leadership and the willingness to put people over politics, Congress failed to act.
However, since then, three federal Circuit Court judges have ruled that the Trump administration ended DACA unlawfully and issued national injunctions requiring U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue accepting renewal applications.
Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure are designations afforded to nationals of countries experiencing humanitarian crisis such as violent conflict, environmental disasters, or epidemics that would prevent nationals from returning safely. As of today, there are an estimated 325,000 TPS and DED recipients living in the United States, representing ten countries: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Over 30,000 TPS recipients reside in New York. Since President Trump assumed office, the Department of Homeland Security has terminated TPS and DED for over 99 percent of those protected by the programs..
In October of 2018, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Haiti. In his decision, Judge Chen specifically noted that “circumstantial evidence of race” seemed to be “a motivating factor” in the Administration’s termination of TPS, and that the series of events leading up to the decision suggest “a predetermined outcome not based on an objective assessment."