“I haven’t made it [the Dream Act] a law of the land because of one thing, the filibuster,” were the words uttered by United States Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, before the American Dream and Promise Act voting cleared the House on March 18.
“Five times I brought this measure to the floor of the United States Senate and been stopped by the filibuster,” Durbin said that day. Now, all eyes are on when it would reach the Senate floor.
The American Dream and Promise Act aka Bill HR 6, if passed by the US Senate, would offer green cards not just to those who came to the US as undocumented immigrants but also those who have gone out of status because of the green card backlog.
San Jose, California-based immigration attorney Jay Terkiana agreed with Senator Durbin’s fears.
“We have two wonderful bills that are already passed by the House of Representatives,” Terkiana, managing immigration attorney at Terkiana Inc, told indica News.
“Not just the HR6 – American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (known as DACA Green Card Bill), but also HR5038 Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019 (known as Farm Workers Green Card Bill),” he pointed out.
American Dream and Promise Act could provide, among other things, a conditional permanent resident status to DACA Recipients, certain minor entrants, and children of certain classes of nonimmigrants.
Similarly, amongst other things, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act could provide green cards to certified agricultural workers.
To become law, these bills must be passed by the Senate and then signed by President. In the US Senate there are 100 seats, 48 Democrats, 50 Republicans, and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats. Democrats hold the majority due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
“But the problem is that any senator can use the filibuster to block the bills,” Terkiana said, sounding concerned.
A filibuster is a parliamentary procedure using which any senator can attempt to delay or block a vote on a bill by extending debate on the measure. According to US Senate rules, a senator can speak for as long as they wish, unless three-fifths of the senators i.e. 60 out of 100 vote to bring the debate to a close by invoking closure.
“So, it is obvious that at least 60 out of 100 senators must pass the bill, in order for it to become law. Now you can see why this is not that easy,” Terkiana said.
“It is pertinent to note here that Farm Workers Green Card Bill has more support in Republican circles, partly because several of the red states depend on farmworkers, and therefore support these measures to some extent,” he added.
Protections in the American and Promise Dream Act would allow 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.
A recent opinion piece in The Hill, however, questioned how serious the Democrats are about the bill.
“The Democrats have been introducing DREAM Acts for 20 years,” it said. “….The most recent attempt is titled the “American Dream and Promise Act,” H.R. 6, but in view of all the previous failed attempts, it might more aptly be called the “False Hope Act.”’
The Hill article added: “They could have moved a DREAM Act through the House and the Senate without a single Republican vote when Barack Obama was president, and he would have signed it into law. From January 2009 to January 2011, Democrats had a large majority in the House, and until Scott Brown’s special election in 2010, they had enough votes in the Senate to stop a Republican filibuster.”