The National Human Services Assembly closely follows key immigration legislation and regulations, and supports a common-sense approach to immigration policy that would help immigrant families and communities thrive. For analysis and stances on additional pieces of legislation, watch out for PolicySource, the National Assembly’s resource to collect, track, and communicate information about salient policy issues, so human service organizations can collaborate and more effectively engage with policymakers. PolicySource is due to launch in Spring, 2019.
To help the human service sector convey how immigration helps our economy grow with shared prosperity, check out our immigration talking points.
Current Priority Legislation
On March 12th, 2019, the House introduced H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. H.R. 6 would provide protections for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients.
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 provides a clear pathway for Dreamers to attain conditional resident status, as well as an additional set of requirements to attain full lawful permanent resident status (LPR).
Conditional Resident Status
The legislation would grant conditional permanent resident status for 10 years, and cancel removal proceedings if prospective recipients meet both of the following requirements:
- Have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for four years preceding the date of the enactment of the bill; and
- Were younger than 18 years of age upon entering the U.S.;
- Additionally, recipients must meet all of the following requirements:
- Are not inadmissible on the following grounds: security and terrorism, smuggling, student visa abuse, ineligibility for citizenship, polygamy, international child abduction, unlawful voting, or former citizens who renounced citizenship to avoid taxation; and have not participated in persecution; and
- Other than a state offense for which an essential element is the person’s immigration status or a minor traffic violation, have not been convicted of:
- any federal or state offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than one year;
- three or more federal or state offenses for which the person was convicted on different dates and imprisoned for an aggregate of 90 days or more; or
- a crime of domestic violence (unless the applicant is a victim themselves of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, child abuse or neglect, elder abuse or neglect, or human trafficking, having been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, or having been a victim of criminal activity); and
- Recipients must:
- Graduate from high school, obtain a GED or industry recognized credential, or are in a program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma, GED or equivalent exam, or in an apprenticeship program; or
- Is admitted to an institution of higher education; and
- Pass a background check, pay a “reasonable” application fee, and register for the Selective Service if required.
A hardship exemption may apply to cases where someone demonstrates the inability to satisfy the above requirements, and is either the full-time care giver of a minor child, a person with disabilities, or if removal would negatively impact a spouse, parent, or child who is a national of the United States or is lawfully admitted for permanent residence. In these cases, only the first two requirements must be met.
There is also a provision ensuring that individuals with conditional permanent resident status are able to access professional, commercial, and business licenses.
Lawful Permanent Resident Status
To gain LPR status, Dreamers must meet one of the following requirements:
- Earn a degree from an institution of higher learning, or maintain good academic standing for at least two years in a Bachelor’s or graduate level degree program, including career and technical education program at a post-secondary level;
- Serve in the military for at least two years, or receive and honorable discharge; or
- Be employed for periods of time totaling at least three years and at least 75 percent of the time that the person has had employment authorization.
A person with LPR status, otherwise known as a green card, may generally apply for U.S. citizenship after holding LPR status for five years.
Additionally, The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would prevent the removal of children younger than 18 years, allowing them to remain in the country while they become eligible for relief in the future. It also allows individuals deported or voluntarily removed on or after January 20, 2017, to apply from abroad if otherwise eligible, even if they had not been previously granted DACA but were eligible and if the sole reason for their removal or voluntary departure was their unlawful presence (regardless of their manner of entry).
Notably, the law also contains provisions that allow higher education institutions to offer financial aid to Dreamers, and repeals previous legislation that penalized states that grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency. This promotes equitable access to opportunity through higher education, and helps all members of our community thrive.
TPS and DED
The Act would provide a pathway to lawful permanent resident status to those with TPS and DED status, and cancel removal proceedings should individuals meet the following requirements:
- Have been physically present in the United States for a period of three years before the Act’s enactment, and;
- Were eligible or had TPS on September 25, 2016 or had DED status as of September 28, 2016;
The legislation also contains provisions that would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide an explanation of a decision to terminate a TPS designation, as well as a report three days after publishing a notice of such termination. Specifically, this report must outline the original designation, as well as any progress made by a country to resolve issues. It must also explain any qualitative and quantitative methods used when determining whether country conditions have improved.
Other Notable Provisions
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 also contains general provisions to ensure the well-being of Dreamers, DED, and TPS recipients throughout the process. This includes strengthening administrative and judicial review procedures for individuals who are denied benefits, as well as ensuring the confidentiality of information of applicants and prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security from using information provided during the application for immigration enforcement.
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 is a key legislative priority for the National Assembly. For more information, check out our statement on the bill’s introduction, our immigration talking points, and our stated priorities for the 116th Congress.
Past Priority Legislation
The Dream Act of 2017 was bipartisan, bicameral legislation that aimed to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth and young adults who came to the U.S. as children. For those who would have qualified, the Act ensured conditional permanent resident (CPR) status for up to eight years, protection from deportation, the ability to work legally in the U.S., and the ability to travel outside of the U.S. To be eligible, participants must have entered the U.S. before the age of 18 and lived continuously in the U.S. for at least four years before the passage of the bill. Additionally, they would have been required to pass a background check, have no serious criminal record, undergo a medical exam, and pay a fee.
In order to be eligible, participants would have had to be enrolled in secondary school, already earned a high school diploma or its equivalent, or prove admittance into an institution of higher learning, though there was no language removing barriers to financial aid for undocumented students.
Dreamers, or recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program that was rescinded by the Administration in September of 2017, would have automatically received CPR status.
The National Assembly recognizes that immigration is wind in our countries sails, providing us with the tools we need to move forward. We support a practical approach to immigration policy that helps everyone reach their full potential, and that is respectful to current residents of the U.S. Alternative legislation, like the SECURE and SUCCEED Act, aimed to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip for border security measures that would harm immigrant families and communities.
While the urgency by lawmakers to establish permanent protections for Dreamers has recently waned, there are still several developments at the federal level worth noting.
The National Assembly actively participates in the Immigrant Youth Coalition led by the National Education Association (NEA).
Public Charge Regulation
The National Assembly is following the impending release of a notice of proposed rulemaking from the Department of Homeland Security to change the rules for immigrants who use certain public benefits. Under the current rules, an individual who is “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence” is determined a public charge. This happens during the application process for a change in their immigration status. Once an individual becomes a public charge, admission to the United States or adjustment of status is not granted. For now, receipt of only two public benefit currently count toward that determination—cash assistance, and long-term care at the government’s expense. Conversely, the forthcoming proposed rule would greatly expand the types of benefits that can be considered by the government in a public charge determination and would extend to public benefits received by dependents of immigrant applicant, even if those dependents are U.S. citizen children.