(CMC) — The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State, has welcomed legislation introduced by Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke in the United States House of Representatives that would allow Caribbean and other “Dreamers” to earn lawful permanent residence, or green card, and US citizenship.
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act, is a United States legislative proposal to grant temporary conditional residency, with the right to work, to unauthorised Caribbean and other immigrants who entered the US as minors—and, if they later satisfy further qualifications, they would attain permanent residency.
In April 2001, US Senators Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, first introduced the bill in the US Senate as S 1291, but it did not pass.
The proposal has since been reintroduced several times, but has not been approved by majorities in either House of Congress.
Last week, Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, introduced HR 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2021.
The bill, co-authored by New York Democratic Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and her California counterpart Lucille Roybal-Allard, will enable US-raised immigrant youth, known as “Dreamers”, to earn lawful permanent residence and American citizenship.
Murad Awawdeh and Rovika Rajkishun, NYIC’s interim co-executive directors, thanked Clarke and Velázquez for “their introduction of the Dream and Promise Act and offering renewed hope to millions of immigrants who call the US home and are essential to our communities.
“The bill marks a vital first step in our fight for immigrant justice by providing much-needed relief and stability for nearly 100,000 New Yorkers,” they told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Monday. “For decades, our movement fought for this historic legislation to protect countless families from the whims of whoever sat in the White House. The last four years revealed the brutal cost of inaction.”
But Awawdeh and Rajkishun said “while there is much to celebrate in this legislation, we are deeply disappointed that this bill includes harmful provisions that criminalise communities of colour and unfairly exclude many people from relief.”
They, therefore, urged Democratic leaders to “remove the bars and penalties that compound racial disparities and anti-Blackness in the criminal legal system.”
But, at the same time, Awawdeh and Rajkishun implored the US Congress, including Majority Leader Charles “Chuck” Schumer, Democrat of New York, “to use whatever means necessary to act swiftly to pass this historic bill.”
The Dream and Promise Act allows many Caribbean and other immigrants brought to the US as children and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, such as Haitians, and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) beneficiaries to earn lawful permanent residence and eventual citizenship.
The legislation would provide legalisation to an estimated two million undocumented young immigrants, including roughly 28,000 Dreamers and more than 50,000 TPS recipients in New York State.
The Dream and Promise Act also provides “Dreamers” with access to equitable higher education.
For TPS and DED holders, HR 6, will secure permanent residency and allow them to apply for citizenship after five years.
The legislation goes even further to prevent immediate deportations, establish the right to judicial review, and impose penalties on those who use application data for immigration enforcement purposes.