Congress is considering new protections for Dreamers, as well as for recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) programs, which provide relief to immigrants from specific countries. The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would block the Administration’s attempts to terminate these programs and protect immigrants with strong ties to the United States from deportation. This proposed bill would provide protection from deportation and a possible earned pathway to citizenship.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was implemented in 2012 to protect against deportation and grant work authorization to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. DACA recipients must meet outlined educational, criminal, and national security requirements to receive and maintain their legal status. There are currently around 800,000 individuals enrolled in the program. The United States has continued to renew DACA permits, but it refuses to accept any new applications at this time.
The Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program offers protection from deportation for people living in the United States who are from a list of specified countries where the United States government has determined it is not safe for them to return. There are currently over 300,000 people who are legally in the country under TPS.
Deferred Enforcement Departure (DED) allows foreign nationals from specific countries recovering from conflicts or disasters to remain and work in the United States. Unlike TPS, however, the President has sole discretion to authorize status and set eligibility requirements, rather than the Secretary of Homeland Security.
All three programs are under threat of termination by President Trump. He revoked DACA in September 2017 and then slowly began terminating TPS protections for different countries. DED programs have now also been scheduled to come to an end. Federal courts have thus far blocked the President’s actions against these programs, but until the issues reach the Supreme Court, where their fate is uncertain. Without Congressional intervention, there is a looming danger that hundreds of thousands of people will face deportation.
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019’s mission is to protect Dreamers and immigrants eligible for TPS and DED from deportation, allowing them to become legal permanent residents, and in certain cases eventual citizens. The bill is similar in many ways to the DREAM Act of 2017, including precious provisions for Dreamers, but this newly proposed bill also includes safeguards and protections for TPS and DED. The bill protects TPS and DED recipients by canceling any pending removal proceedings and allowing them to apply for Lawful Permanent Residence if they:
- Have lived in the United States for at least three years;
- Were eligible for or had TPS status on September 25, 2016, or DED status on September 28, 2016; and
- Have not been convicted of a serious crime or terrorism.
Former TPS and DED recipients would be eligible for citizenship as well in the same manner as any other Lawful Permanent Resident. The bill would also work retroactively for those who were removed from the country by the Trump administration before the bill’s enactment if they met the above requirements.
This bill promises a new hope for those facing the threat of deportation by the Trump Administration and has shown promising traction over the past few weeks. The bill would help approximately 3.6 million Dreamers, including the 800,000 who have been protected from deportation and granted a work permit under DACA. The legislation provides protection and certainty to neighbors, friends, workers, students, and even educators. The bill supports families staying together and will help secure long-term economic stability.