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Information on the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021

I have recently been amazed by the lack of information in press reports as well as the amazingly inaccurate and thoroughly anti-immigrant (if not anti-American) propaganda emanating from conservatives across the country whose only intent appears to be to make America a worse place for anyone trying to survive or improve their future while living in this country. I therefore did some research to provide Enterprise readers with facts so that they can make their own judgments.

Dreamers and others with protected status are integral to the economy. Many are employed in industries including construction, restaurants, landscaping, child care, driving and delivery. They contribute about $3.6 billion in federal, state and local taxes annually, and possess more than $10.1 billion in spending power, according to the Center for American Progress.

Contrary to popular belief, undocumented immigrants pay taxes. Although they are ineligible to receive Social Security benefits, many still pay Social Security tax. All pay sales taxes. Many pay Medicare taxes, federal and state income taxes. Undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. contribute about $11.7 billion in state and local taxes annually, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The American Dream and Promise Act was introduced by three members of Congress, including two from New York. The authors of the bill were Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), will enable U.S.-raised immigrant youth known as “Dreamers” to earn lawful permanent residence and American citizenship. In addition to Dreamers, the Dream and Promise Act also includes protections and a path to citizenship for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries.

In 1992, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard became the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress and Nydia Velazquez become the first native of Puerto Rico to become a member of Congress. Yvette Clarke is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants representing Shirley Chisolm’s old district in Congress, beginning her first term in 2007.

Summary of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/dream-act-overview.

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 approved by the House and referred to the Senate with 146 original cosponsors. The bill would provide Dreamers as well as others with Department of Homeland Security status, TPS holders and individuals with DED with protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain permanent legal status in the United States if they meet certain requirements. It would allow Dreamers brought to America as children, including nearly 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, to stay in the U.S. The bill’s protections would also allow almost 400,000 TPS and DED holders to have the opportunity to remain in the country, along with another 170,000 “Legal Dreamers” — children of temporary workers who “aged out” from their parents’ visas.

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 would create a “conditional permanent resident” status valid for up to 10 years that would protect Dreamers from deportation, allow them to work legally in the U.S. and permit them to travel outside the country. Dreamers would need to meet the following requirements: Establish that they came to the U.S. before the age of 18 and have continuously lived in the U.S. on or before Jan. 1, 2021; and are not inadmissible under any of several grounds: criminal, security and terrorism, smuggling, participated in persecution; student visa abuse, polygamy, international child abduction, unlawful voting, or if they are a former citizen who renounced citizenship to avoid taxation.

Dreamers who obtain “conditional permanent resident” status could apply to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) as soon as they meet the following conditions consisting of one of the three following tracks:

¯ Graduate from a college or university, or complete at least two years of a bachelor’s or higher degree program in the U.S. (education track);

¯ Complete at least two years of honorable military service (military track); or

¯ Have worked for a period totaling at least three years and, while having valid employment authorization, have worked at least 75% of the time that they had such authorization. Periods in which individuals were enrolled in school without working while having valid employment authorization would not count against them (worker track).

In addition, excepting immigration-related state offenses, marijuana-related misdemeanor offenses, nonviolent civil disobedience and minor traffic offenses, have not been convicted of the following: a state or federal felony offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than one year; three or more distinct federal or state misdemeanor offenses for which the person was imprisoned for a total of 90 days or more; or a crime of domestic violence (unless the person is a victim themselves of domestic violence or other criminal activity); demonstrate they have earned a high school diploma or an equivalent in the U.S., or are currently in the process of earning a high school diploma or an equivalent; pass government and background security checks, submit biometric and biographic data, and register for the Selective Service (if applicable); and pay a reasonable application fee.

The bill also establishes a secondary review process that would allow the Department of Homeland Security secretary to provisionally deny an application for conditional permanent resident status if the secretary determines “based on clear and convincing evidence” that the individual is a public safety concern or participated in gang activities within the preceding five years. The bill establishes a process to provide judicial review of the secretary’s decision. Recipients can lose conditional permanent resident status at any time if they commit a serious crime or fail to meet the other requirements set forth in the bill.

James Connolly lives in Lake Clear.

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