11 years after the creation of DACA, Congress trying again to give ‘Dreamers’ more legal certainty

Caitlyn Kim/CPR News
Bipartisan group of House members announce the reintroduction of the American Dream and Promise Act at a press conference at the U.S. Capitol, June 15, 2023.

A bipartisan group of U.S. House members reintroduced a bill to protect DREAMERS on the 11th anniversary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.

There are over 13,000 DACA recipients, or Dreamers, living in Colorado, and more than half a million total across the country. The program authorizes some undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children to live and work in the U.S.

“Dreamers pay taxes, build and own small businesses, and work hard to grow our economy. Yet they remain in limbo,” said Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas, who introduced the bill this Congress. “This bipartisan American Dream and Promise Act is about giving Dreamers, TPS, and DED holders an opportunity to achieve the American dream.”

She said the pathway would be simple, legal and safe. The bill would grant qualified people 10 years of conditional permanent resident status. It would also provide legal status for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders — a program that covers migrants from specific countries that the deems unsafe for people to return to — and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients. It also included provisions to some immigrant families as they apply for citizenship.

Unlike past years, three Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors. 

According to GOP Rep. Maria Salazar of Florida, this bill is long past due. “I think it's inconceivable, once again, that good people cannot stand up and say proudly, ‘I'm here and I'm contributing and I want to be part of the promised land.’”

She urged the public to send politicians on both sides of the aisle the message that it’s time for solutions. “Give dignity to those people who live in the shadows, including the Dreamers, who are the most innocent victims of this situation.”

At least one Republican sponsor admitted that more work needs to be done on their side of the aisle before the bill can be brought to the floor.

GOP Rep. John Duarte of California said when there’s more support for the bill and “it’s a reality with a lot of very firm facts,” then they’ll take it to Republican leadership for consideration.

A version of the bill passed in the last Congress, when Democrats had control of the House, but never made it through the Senate. Only nine Republicans supported the bill then. All three of Colorado’s Republican congress members opposed it.

House Majority Leader, Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, said he’s committed to working with Republicans and the Senate “to speak up and show up and stand up until the American Dream and Promise Act is the law of the land.”