ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ SAYS CONGRESSMEMBERS WERE BROUGHT TO TEARS AS DREAM AND PROMISE ACT PASSED IN HOUSE: ‘WHAT A MOMENT. THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT’
On Tuesday, the House Chamber felt a little more like a “rock concert,” as New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put it, describing the moment Congress and crowd members erupted into cheers as the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 was passed.
“Today, after YEARS of GOP refusal, the House finally voted on the DREAM Act under a Dem majority,” New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter, celebrating the 237-187 vote on the bill, which seeks to extend permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for as many as 2.5 million immigrants in the U.S.
“The moment when it passed was like a rock concert,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
But, in addition to cheers, there were also some tears shed in the landmark moment.
“The people’s cheers brought many, many members to tears,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “What a moment. This is why we fight.”
The American Dream and Promise Act, also known as H.R.6, was spearheaded by Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, and seeks to provide permanent status to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as minors, known as Dreamers, as well as to those living in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and (Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) programs.
TPS is a temporary status allowing nationals who are unable to safely return to their home countries due to armed conflict, natural disaster or other extraordinary and temporary conditions, to remain in the U.S. until it is safe to return. DED currently allows some 4,000 Liberian nationals displaced by conflict and the Ebola crisis to live in the U.S. without fear of removal, at least until March 30, 2020 when the Trump administration has ordered a “wind-down” of the program to begin.
According to estimates from the Center for American Progress and the University of Southern California Dornsife Center for the Study of Immigration Integration, as many as 2.5 million Dreamers, TPS holders and DED beneficiaries could be eligible for permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship under the act.
Of the 237 Congress members who voted in favor of the bill, seven were Republicans, including Representatives Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida, Dan Newhouse of Washington, Don Bacon of Nebraska, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas, Christopher Smith of New Jersey and Fred Upton of Michigan.
Following the passage of H.R.6, Díaz-Balart said in a statement that while he supported the bill in a show of solidarity with efforts to protect Dreamers and TPS recipients, he was disappointed that Democratic leadership had presented a bill “that is unlikely to pass the Senate and become law.”
“I have consistently worked with House Democrats and Republicans to help DREAMers, but unfortunately, these efforts have not been reciprocated by Democratic leadership,” he said. “It is time to propose tangible solutions. I remain open and willing to work with my colleagues across the aisle to address the ongoing uncertainty that our DREAMers face.”
Díaz-Balart’s point was a fair one, given that the Dream and Promise Act is likely to face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate, which rejected similar immigration proposals last year.
Despite the struggle H.R.6 is likely to face in the Senate, Democratic Congressmembers and supporters of the pro-immigration bill celebrated the measure’s success as a landmark moment.