This bill — the Dream Act of 2019 — would allow Dreamers and individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to stay in the U.S. with a path toward citizenship. TPS and DED holders would be eligible to apply for green cards (which they’re currently unable to seek) and apply for American citizenship after five years. Dreamers, regardless of whether they’re DACA recipients, would have to first apply for “conditional permanent residency” lasting 10 years.
Title I: Protecting America’s Dreamers
This bill would grant Dreamers conditional permanent resident status for 10 years, and cancel removal proceedings if they:
- Have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for 4 years preceding the date of the enactment of the bill;
- Were 17 years old or younger on the initial date of entry into the U.S.;
- Are not inadmissible on the following grounds: criminal, security and terrorism, smuggling, student visa abuse, ineligibility for citizenship, polygamy, international child abduction, unlawful voting, or former citizens who renounced citizenship to avoid taxation; and have not participated in persecution;
- Other than a state offense for which an essential element is the person’s immigration status or a minor traffic violation, have not been convicted of: 1) any federal or state offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of more than one year, 2) or more federal or state offenses for which the person was convicted on different dates and imprisoned for an aggregate of 90 days or more, or 3) a crime of domestic violence (unless the applicant is a victim themselves of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, child abuse or neglect, elder abuse or neglect, or human trafficking, has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, or has been a victim of criminal activity);
- Graduate from high school, obtain a GED or industry recognized credential, or are in a program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma, GED or equivalent exam, or in an apprenticeship program; and
- Pass security and law enforcement background checks, pay a reasonable application fee, and register for the Selective Service if required.
In order to gain full lawful permanent resident status (LPR), Dreamers would have to:
- Acquire a degree from a U.S. institution of higher education; or complete at least two years in good standing in a bachelor’s or higher degree program or in an area career and technical education program at a post-secondary level in the U.S.; or
- Complete at least two years of military service, and if discharged, received an honorable discharge; or
- Be employed for periods of time totaling at least three years and at least 75 percent of the time that the person has had employment authorization.
This bill also includes a number of provisions for Dreamers, including:
- Repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which penalizes states that grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency;
- Allowing Dreamers to access federal financial aid;
- Ensuring that individuals with conditional permanent resident status are able to access professional, commercial, and business licenses; and
- Permitting eligible Dreamers deported from the United States by the Trump Administration to apply for relief from abroad.
Title II: A Path Forward for TPS and DED Recipients
This bill would grant individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) LPR status and cancel removal proceedings if they:
- Have been in the United States for a period of 3 years before the Act’s enactment; and
- Were eligible for or had TPS on September 25, 2016 or had DED status as of September 28, 2016.
This bill would amend current TPS law to require the Secretary of Homeland Security to provide an explanation of a decision to terminate a TPS designation. It’d also require the Secretary to provide a report within three days of publishing a notice of such termination. The report would be required to explain the original designation and any progress made by a country to resolve the issues leading to TPS designation. Additionally, the Homeland Security Secretary would be required to describe the qualitative and quantitative methods used to assess whether or not country conditions have improved, which would include addressing any challenges or shortcomings related to the initial designation.
Finally, this bill would clarify that an immigrant entering the TPS program will be considered as having been inspected and admitted into the United States.
Title III: Additional General Provisions
This bill sets forth a number of provisions protecting Dreamers and individuals with TPS or DED during their application for relief. Those provisions include:
- Ensuring the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General may not remove a person who appears prima facie eligible for cancellation of removal and conditional permanent residence;
- Requiring the Secretary to provide a reasonable opportunity to apply for relief to a person subject to removal who requests such an opportunity or who appears prima facie eligible;
- Providing a fee exemption for individuals under the age of 18, received an income that is less than 150% of the poverty line, are in foster care or lacking familiar support, or who cannot care for themselves due to a serious, chronic disability;
- Permitting individuals with a pending application an employment authorization document and to apply for advance parole;
- Permitting the Homeland Security Secretary to waive select inadmissibility bars and crimes of domestic violence for humanitarian purposes, family unity, or if the waiver is otherwise in the public interest;
- Strengthening administrative and judicial review procedures for individuals denied benefits under this bill;
- Ensuring the confidentiality of information of applicants and prohibiting DHS from using information provided during the application for immigration enforcement; and
- Establishing a new grant program to assist nonprofits in screening individuals for eligibility and assisting in their application for relief under this bill.