The Dream and Promise Act, also known as H.R. 6 in the U.S. House of Representatives, would allow “Dreamers” to secure permanent residence and American citizenship.
Clarke, the daughter of Caribbean immigrants who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, said the bill is the 116th Congress’s version of the Dream Act that was introduced in 2001. However, she said H.R. 6 includes protections and a path to citizenship not just for Dreamers but also for temporary protected status (TPS) for Haitians, among others, and deferred enforced departure (DED) beneficiaries.
“We need comprehensive immigration reform that protects Dreamers, as well as TPS and DED beneficiaries,” Clarke explained last month. “That’s why I am proud to be a co-lead on the Dream and Promise Act (HR 6).”
The bill was also co-authored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lucille Roybal-Allard and Nydia Velázquez.
“This bill builds upon the Dream Act, the American Promise Act, and the ASPIRE TPS Act, which I introduced last Congress,” Clarke said.
Roybal-Allard said that as a co-author of the original Dream Act she has “seen first-hand the love that our Dreamers have for our country.
“They are our neighbors and colleagues who help strengthen our communities. They are students, scientists, researchers, and small business owners.
“Our Dream and Promise Act recognizes the contributions and patriotism of Dreamers, TPS recipients, and DED beneficiaries by helping them stay in America, pursue a path to citizenship, and keep strengthening our great country,” Roybal-Allard said.
Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the Dream and Promise Act allows Dreamers and individuals with TPS and DED to “contribute fully in the country they love and know to be their home by providing a pathway to citizenship.”
She said the legislation would grant Dreamers conditional permanent resident status for 10 years, and cancel removal proceedings, if they have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for four years preceding the date of the enactment of the bill and were 17 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the US.
Clarke also said the bill would, among other things, grant Dreamers conditional permanent resident status if they graduate from high school, obtained a general equivalency diploma (GED) or industry-recognized credential, or were in a program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma, GED or equivalent exam, or in an apprenticeship program.
In order to gain full lawful permanent resident status, Clarke said Dreamers must acquire a degree from a U.S. institution of higher education or complete at least two years in good standing in a bachelor’s or higher degree program or in an area career and technical education program at a post-secondary level in the U.S.
For lawful permanent residence, Clarke said Dreamers must also complete at least two years of military service and, if discharged, receive an honorable discharge; or be employed for periods of time totaling at least three years and at least 75 percent of the time with employment authorization.
The Caribbean American congresswoman said the bill also includes a number of provisions for Dreamers, including repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which penalizes states that grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency.
Clarke said the bill also allows Dreamers to access federal financial aid; ensure that individuals with conditional permanent resident status are able to access professional, commercial, and business licenses; and permitting eligible Dreamers deported from the U.S. by the administration of President Donald Trump to apply for relief from abroad.
Clarke said the Dream and Promise Act would grant individuals with TPS or DED and lawful permanent resident status and cancel removal proceedings if they have been in the U.S. for a period of three years before the bill’s enactment; and were eligible or had TPS on Sept. 25, 2016 or had DED status as of Sept. 28, 2016.
“The bill amends current TPS law to require the secretary of Homeland Security to provide an explanation of a decision to terminate a TPS designation and requires the secretary must provide a report three days after publishing a notice of such termination,” Clarke explained.
“This report must explain the original designation and any progress made by a country to resolve the issues leading to TPS designation.
“The secretary also has to describe the qualitative and quantitative methods used to assess whether or not country conditions have improved, which would include addressing any challenges or shortcomings related to the initial designation,” Clarke said, adding that the bill also clarifies that an immigrant entering the TPS program will be considered as having been inspected and admitted into the U.S.