The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a law that paves the way for the legalization of millions of undocumented immigrants.
With 228 votes for (including 9 Republicans) and 197 against, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 constitutes a first step for young undocumented migrants brought to the United States in their childhood, called “dreamers”, to obtain citizenship. .
The measure also has an impact on those granted temporary protection status and the so-called postponement of forced exit, which would benefit 4.4 million people eligible for permanent residence, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Another legislation related to the theme must be voted on this Thursday. With likely greater Republican support, the law sets out granting legal status to around 1 million rural workers and their families in an updated visa program for farmers.
The Democratic House leaders acted to quickly bring the two projects to the floor. The measures are relatively modest, but popular solutions, and are at the center of an impasse in the political debate. Democrats have racked up unsuccessful attempts for more comprehensive immigration legislation for years.
The already approved text now goes to the Senate, where the majority of President Joe Biden’s party is even narrower – there are 50 seats Republican, 48 Democrats and 2 Independents (who tend to follow Democrats), with the vote decisive decision of the vice-president. , Kamala Harris.
Although some Republicans have pledged to support the Dreamers in the past, the party is increasingly uniting in a hard-line strategy to block any new immigration laws as it seeks to use the border situation against Biden and the Democrats.
The US president faces the largest flow of migrants to the United States for 20 years at the border with Mexico, according to data released Tuesday (16) by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
According to the department, border crossings attempts by people from the neighboring country and the Northern Triangle – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – have steadily increased since April 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic, hurricanes and other natural disasters which have caused great damage in the countries of origin of immigrants explain, according to the secretary, the deterioration of the living conditions of those who risk crossing the border illegally.
The number of prisoners or deported at the border with Mexico increases
In February alone, 100,441 people were arrested or deported at the border with Mexico, according to data from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This number represents the highest monthly total since the U.S. border crisis in 2019.
In an interview with ABC television on Wednesday (17), Biden partially waived his responsibilities by mentioning “sudden increases” in the number of immigrants trying to enter the country over the past two years, but recognized that the current crisis could be worse than those faced by Donald Trump. Biden said he “inherited a mess” from the previous government and sought to refute the thesis that he opened the borders to everyone because he was “a nice guy.”
“I can say clearly [aos imigrantes]: do not come. Do not leave your cities or your communities “, declared the president. Despite the incisive speech, the Democrat defended the importance of attacking the causes which can explain the increase in migratory flows.
In the midst of the crisis, the proposals debated in the House serve as a thermometer for the more comprehensive changes promised by Biden. Throughout the White House campaign, he vowed to take a more humane approach to immigration policies than the previous government.
Almost two months after his inauguration, however, the current crisis is creating some haze over some of the advances already in place, such as the signing of a series of decrees in the early days of the government which, among other measures, aim to bring together immigrant families separated under the Trump administration and suspend work to expand the wall on the border with Mexico.
During that time, the current administration has relied on a controversial measure imposed by Trump in March of last year on the grounds that it has yet to have time to implement more far-reaching changes. Treated as a public health order, the former president’s ruling cites a “serious concern over the introduction of Covid into the United States” as legal support for the immediate deportation of people attempting to enter the country by violation of travel restrictions or clandestinely. .
The Biden government says it has not applied the rule to unaccompanied children. However, the number of people targeted by the measure remains primarily responsible for the deportation and detention records of those who attempted to cross the border. Of the 100,000 forced to return to their countries of origin in February, more than 70% were targets of the controversial public health order.