WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that aims to give up to 2.5 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship.
The legislation – a top priority for the Democratic majority – would offer protections for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and others who are currently without permanent legal status.
Arizona’s Democratic members all supported it, while all of the state’s Republican representatives opposed it.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, accused the Trump administration of putting immigrants’ “lives in limbo” and called the bill’s passage “a historic moment for the nation and for each of the 2.5 million individuals who have built their lives here and deserve a long-term legislative solution.”
In previous years, legislative efforts to grant protections to undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors have been bipartisan. But this effort appears unlikely to gain support in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, given the partisanship that currently defines the immigration debate.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) portrayed the measure as “an amnesty bill to reward and incentivize the lawlessness besieging our country.”
Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.) praised the legislation as both morally correct and economically smart.
“Make no mistake, this is an economic stimulus bill. The economic gains in communities across the country will be significant—and few stand to benefit more than mine,” he said in a statement after the bill’s passage.
Arizona is home to an estimated 65,400 immigrants who are eligible for protection under the Dream and Promise Act, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank and advocacy group. Those eligible immigrants and their households contribute nearly $298 million in federal taxes and $188 million in state and local taxes each year, according to CAP, and their households generate more than $1.5 billion each year in spending power.
The vote comes after the Trump administration announced plans to end an Obama administration program to protect young immigrants – known as “dreamers” – from deportation.
The House legislation would also offer a pathway to citizenship for immigrants with temporary protections, known as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).
“Protecting Dreamers and TPS and DED Americans is about honoring the respect for family that is at the heart of our faith and who we are as Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a press conference ahead of the vote. “There should be nothing partisan or political about this legislation.”
The White House has issued a veto threat against the bill.