While the U.S. House of Representatives continues to lag behind the Senate on immigration reform efforts, some of its leaders have expressed their optimism about providing Dreamers some form of legal status. The children of immigrants who came to the U.S. before reaching the age of majority are typically labeled Dreamers due to the 2010 Dream Act, which unsuccessfully attempted to provide them with citizenship if they fulfilled military service or educational requirements.
Having been an observer of politics for many years, I understand that drafting a piece of legislation as large and as politically charged as immigration reform is unlikely to happen quickly or without significant negotiations. Although I remain optimistic that Congress will ultimately pass some type of immigration reform, as an immigration attorney, I am still unsure what changes are likely to be included.
Statements from House leadership this week have indicated that some type of legalization for Dreamers is likely to be included in an upcoming bill. The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte has announced that he will partner with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to write a bill for immigrant children.
In a press conference, House Speaker John Boehner and Cantor agreed that principles of basic fairness require granting some form of legal status to Dreamers. Boehner suggested that many in the Republican caucus recognize the need to give these young people legal standing so that they can remain in the country they call home. He also appeared optimistic that a bill on this issue would be presented in the near future.
Cantor appeared to go even further and suggest that a path for citizenship would be available for these young immigrants. He stated that it is an issue of decency and compassion which would require these young people to become “full citizens.” The tentative name of the new bill is the KIDS Act. Despite the statements from House leaders, none of their offices could confirm a potential timeline for introducing a bill, and none of these leaders have begun to write the bill yet.
This support for legalizing immigrants who were brought into the country by their parents appears to be more politically tenable than any House bill that would provide citizenship or legal status to the parents of these young people. Many House Republicans are vehemently opposed to granting any legal status to individuals who broke immigration laws to enter the country. Rep. Steve King has voiced his strong opposition to any type of deal which would legalize undocumented immigrants, young or old.
As an immigration attorney in Austin, I have encountered countless young people who have come to the U.S. as children. While only the federal government can provide them with citizenship or resident status, it is difficult to deny that many of these young people consider America their home.
Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC has been a zealous legal advocate for its clients in a variety of immigration and family law cases. If you would like to discuss your legal issues, please contact our office at (512) 215-5225.