Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California) introduced the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R. 6) on March 3, 2021 with 146 original cosponsors. The bill would provide Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and individuals with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) with protection from deportation and an opportunity to obtain permanent legal status in the United States if they meet certain requirements.
Previously, in June 2019 during the 116th Congress, a previous version of the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 237 to 187 vote, with seven Republicans joining all 230 Democrats who were present in support of the legislation.
Protections in the American Dream and Promise Act would allow as many as 2.3 million Dreamers brought to America as children, including nearly 700,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) 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 certain temporary workers who aged out of derivative status from their parents’ visas.
Protections for Dreamers
Conditional Permanent Residence
- 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 – including DACA recipients – from deportation, allow them to work legally in the U.S. and permit them to travel outside the country.
- To qualify for “conditional permanent resident” status, 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 January 1, 2021;
- 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;
- Excepting immigration-related state offenses, marijuana-related misdemeanor offenses, non-violent 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 1 year;
- 3 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 establishes a secondary review process that would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 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.
- The bill would pause the deportation proceedings for Dreamers if they are eligible for “conditional permanent resident” status. It would also prevent deportation proceedings for young Dreamers under the age of 18 if they meet the requirements for “conditional permanent resident status” except that they are not yet enrolled in high school or an equivalent.
- “Legal Dreamers” – children of certain temporary workers who arrived in the U.S. at the age of 18 or younger and were continuously present in the U.S. since January 1, 2021 – may similarly obtain relief under this bill, including aged-out children of E-1, E-2, H-1B, and L visa holders.
Lawful Permanent Residence
- Dreamers who obtain “conditional permanent resident” status could apply to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs or green-card holders) as soon as they meet the following conditions:
- Complete one of the following three 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 percent 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).
- Complete one of the following three tracks:
Other Dreamer Provisions
- The bill also includes additional provisions impacting Dreamers, including:
- Directing the DHS secretary to create streamlined procedures for DACA recipients who meet the requirements for DACA renewal to receive “conditional permanent resident” status or to adjust to LPR status.
- Allowing the secretary to waive certain inadmissibility bars when in the public interest, for humanitarian purposes, or for family unity purposes.
- Barring DHS from using information provided in applications from being used for immigration enforcement purposes.
- Providing that eligible Dreamers deported during the Trump administration may apply for relief from abroad.
- Allowing Dreamers to access federal financial aid.
- Clarifying that states may grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of state residency.
Protection for TPS Holders and DED Recipients
- The American Dream and Promise Act would allow TPS holders and individuals with DED to adjust to LPR (green-card holder) status if they meet the following requirements:
- Establish they have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least three years before the bill’s enactment;
- Demonstrate they were eligible for or had TPS on September 17, 2017, or had DED as of January 20, 2021;
- Apply within three years of the bill’s enactment and meet the admissibility requirements for LPRs; and
- Pay a reasonable application fee.
- The bill would protect TPS holders and TPS-eligible individuals from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as individuals with DED from Liberia. It would not provide additional relief to those benefiting from the March 2021 grants of TPS to individuals from Venezuela and Burma.
- The bill would cancel deportation proceedings for TPS holders and individuals with DED if they are eligible for LPR status under the bill’s protections.
- The bill would clarify that under current law, an individual with TPS is considered inspected and admitted into the U.S. This provision would permit future TPS recipients to adjust to LPR status under certain circumstances, including when they marry a U.S. citizen.
- The bill would permit TPS holders and TPS-eligible individuals who were deported or who voluntarily departed the U.S. on or after September 17, 2017 to apply for LPR status if they meet certain requirements, including having lived in the U.S. continuously for at least three years and having been deported solely because they were present in the U.S. after the expiration of their TPS status or, in the case of a voluntary departure, departed because of the DHS Secretary’s decision to end TPS designation for their country.
- The American Dream and Promise Act would prevent DHS from deporting an individual who appears to be eligible for the bill’s protections or has a pending application. It also would require that persons subject to removal are provided a reasonable opportunity to apply if they request an opportunity to apply or otherwise appear prima facie eligible for relief under the bill.
- The bill would create a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grant program for nonprofit organizations to screen and assist individuals apply for “conditional permanent resident” status or LPR status under the bill.
- The bill would allow individuals with pending applications to receive employment authorization and to apply for advance parole.