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House passes bill giving path to citizenship for DACA 'Dreamers'

The legislation would provide a 10-year path to citizenship for people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
The legislation would provide a 10-year path to citizenship for people protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. File Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

March 18 (UPI) -- The House passed legislation Thursday to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The Dream and Promise Act passed with a vote of 228-197 with bipartisan support.

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If passed in the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden, the legislation could provide a 10-year path to citizenship for some 4.5 million so-called "Dreamers," those who receive protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The legislation is narrower in scope than the immigration reform package unveiled by Democrats in February, which would have included an eight-year pathway to citizenship for a broader range of immigrants, an expedited pathway for farm workers, increased per-country caps and clearing visa backlogs, among other measures.

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Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who sponsored the larger U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 reform package, welcomed the passage of the Dreamers bill.

"Dreamers and [temporary protected status] holders are essential workers, teachers, and medical personnel," she said. "This bill will allow them to gain permanent legal status so that they can continue to contribute to the country they call home."

The Texas Opportunity Coalition said passage of the Dream and Promise Act will help boost the economy.

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"These are young people who have obeyed our laws, studied in our schools, and now many are workers and employers contributing $963 million in taxes to our economy," the organization said. "If we want to remain competitive as the world emerges from the global pandemic, we need to retain talent like these young people."

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Colo., warned in February that Democrats' plans for immigration reform should be rejected by Republicans in Congress, saying the legislation "rewards those who broke the law."

"In January, President Trump said: 'If our border security measures are reversed, it will trigger a tidal wave of illegal immigration -- a wave like you've never seen before.' He was right," Jordan tweeted Thursday.

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On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said there's been an increase in the number of illegal border crossings.

"We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years," he said. "We are expelling most single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied children."

Mayorkas said the majority of migrants crossing the border are single adults who are being sent back under federal COVID-19 safety protocols. Families from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are also being sent back to Mexico, he said.

Clyde Hughes contributed to this report.

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