The White House offered its support for Democrat-backed immigration bills that include a path to citizenship, ahead of a vote in the House of Representatives on the pieces of legislation set for Thursday afternoon.
The House is set to vote on two immigration bills Thursday — one to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth, also known as “Dreamers,” and and a second to provide legal status to certain migrant agriculture workers.
“The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant youth, known as “Dreamers,” as well as individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS),” the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement Thursday.
“Americans recognize that our Nation is enriched by the contributions of immigrants,” OMB said, adding that the bill is a “critical milestone toward much-needed relief for the millions of undocumented individuals who call the United States home.”
The Dream Act legislation would allow conditional permanent resident status for 10 years to those who arrived in the United States illegally as a minor and those with deferred enforced departure (DED) status or temporary protected status (TPS). The immigrants would have to meet qualifying requirements, such as passing a background check and enrollment in or completion of certain educational programs.
Beyond supporting the passage of H.R. 6, the Biden administration also urged Congress to “reform other aspects of our immigration system by passing the U.S. Citizenship Act, which would provide a path to citizenship to millions of undocumented immigrants, establish a new system to responsibly manage and secure our border, bring long overdue visa reforms to keep families together and grow our economy, and address the root causes of instability and unsafe conditions causing migration from Central America.”
Meanwhile, the House is also set to take up H.R. 1603 Thursday, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021. The bill would provide farmworkers an opportunity to earn citizenship.
“A path to immigration status for undocumented farmworkers is critically important to our Nation’s food and agriculture sectors,” OMB said Thursday, adding that a majority of the nation’s “roughly 2.4 million farmworkers are undocumented, living in the shadows, and vulnerable to exploitation, including human trafficking.”
“With legal status and a path to citizenship, farmworkers would be able to earn higher wages and exercise their rights under our labor laws to demand better working conditions,” OMB said. “In turn, businesses that rely on farmworkers would have a more reliable and stable workforce.
The Biden administration, though, is calling on Congress to “strike a balance between the proposed expansion of the H-2A visa program and increased protections for farm workers to prevent abuse,” which they say “has marked the existing program.”
The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs.
But House Minority Whip Steve Scalise is urging all Republicans to vote against the Dream Act in a further sign that bipartisanship will be hard to come by on immigration issues, as the GOP continues to pummel President Biden for the surge of migrants at the southern border.
Scalise, R-La., sent a memo to his GOP colleagues Wednesday blasting Biden’s “open borders and lax enforcement” and arguing Republicans should not be providing “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.
“The bill would only worsen the flow of illegal immigrates to the U.S.,” Scalise wrote to his colleagues.
Democrats, however, were hoping for some bipartisan cooperation to protect so-called Dreamers, who came to the United States illegally as children and in some cases have no recollection of their country of birth. Protections for Dreamers from deportation have typically garnered some bipartisan support.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday said that the U.S. is on track to encounter more migrants than it has in the last 20 years, and defended the administration’s approach to a border surge that he described as “difficult.”
He spoke days after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it had encountered more than 100,000 migrants at the border in February, while numbers of child migrants in custody have also increased dramatically. The Biden administration has been moving to increase capacity of facilities to house migrants, and building a number of extra facilities — including looking at NASA sites and military bases.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.