Week Ending June 7, 2019

House Passes Bill to Protect Dreamers

  • House Democrats Make Good on Dreamer Promise
  • House Appropriations Committee Continues Work

House Democrats Make Good On Dreamer Promise

This week, the House passed the “American Dream and Promise Act of 2019” (H.R. 6), fulfilling a long-standing promise to protect those immigrants who self-reported their status and stepped out of the shadows. H.R. 6 passed by a vote of 237 to 187, with seven Republicans crossing the aisle to support this Democratic measure. The bill now moves to the Senate. The White House has threatened a veto.

  • What It Does H.R. 6 provides conditional protection from deportation and a pathway to citizenship to qualifying immigrants in specific programs known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
  • Who Qualifies - Approximately 2 million immigrants who have undergone criminal and national security background checks and fall into specific designations of DACA, TPS and DED. These immigrants must have been brought to this country as minors (under 18) and/or should have been invited into the United States by our government due to economic or political problems, armed conflict or natural disasters in their home countries
  • Earning It These protections are conditional on the applicant’s ability to meet standards. The full citizenship process is expected to take approximately 15 years if one or more requirements are met. Standards include: Earning a degree from a higher education institution, or completing at least two years in a career and technical institution or in a post-secondary program, or serving at least two years in the military without being dishonorably discharged, or being employed for at least three years and completing 75 percent of their work authorization period.
  • America Benefits This group of immigrants is responsible for contributing tens of billions of dollars to our economy, including over $17 billion in federal taxes and over $9 billion in state and local taxes. They also account for $75 billion in spending power, and 93% have been shown to maintain employment. They are vital to our social fabric and economy through their contributions to our markets and public infrastructure.

What You Need to Know:  The original Dream Act was introduced 18 years ago. Although Congress has grappled with various plans to protect these groups, lawmakers have been unable to reach consensus within Congress and with the Trump administration. Two separate measures that mirror H.R. 6 have been introduced in the Senate, though neither has been considered. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has introduced a version of the Dream Act (S. 874), while Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) has introduced a bill (S. 879) to grant TPS recipients permanent residency status. AFSCME continues to urge Senate action to protect these groups.

House Appropriations Committee Continues Work 

The House Appropriations Committee advanced the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies spending bill. This measure provides important funding to support AFSCME members who ensure that public housing units are safe and livable, and that people and goods can travel safely throughout the country. AFSCME supports the legislation, which provides significant increases for critical programs, including:

  • Public Housing – The Public Housing Operating Fund and the Public Housing Capital Funding, which are critical to maintaining and preserving public housing.
  • Economic Development – Community Development Block Grants, which support affordable housing, public infrastructure, economic redevelopment, social services, and other important priorities.
  • Transportation – Several transportation programs supporting a wide range of infrastructure – from various means of public transportation to road projects to airports. 

The legislation provides a sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s budget, which proposed significant cutbacks or even the elimination of public housing and transportation programs.

What You Need to Know: There are still several steps remaining before this legislation is enacted into law. The bill still needs to be considered and voted on by the full House of Representatives, which is expected to occur this month. The bill must also pass the Senate, where the Appropriations Committee has not yet considered any of the 2020 spending bills. Any differences between the House and Senate versions of the spending bills will need to be ironed out before legislation can be sent to the president and enacted into law. Congress must also reach a deal to increase spending limits (often referred to as “budget caps”) established by previously passed legislation. Throughout this process, AFSCME will support an agreement to increase domestic spending limits and ensure that the critical public service programs supporting the work of AFSCME members are adequately funded.

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