Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-2, last week voted in favor of overwhelmingly popular immigration reform bills that will support the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic while honoring our nation’s rich history as the land of opportunity for all. Both H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, and H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives and now head to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
The bills will modernize and reform our immigration system by offering permanent protections and a rigorous pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have been, and will continue to be, key to the economic recovery of our nation. The American Dream and Promise Act provides relief to our nation’s Dreamers, as well as many Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) holders. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides stability, predictability and fairness to the workers who feed America.
“With each vote that I cast, I have to look beyond the current political context and vote not only my conscience, but the will of my constituents,” Congressman Ruppersberger said. “And poll after poll show the overwhelming majority of Americans support a pathway for Dreamers, most of whom have only known this country as their home.”
“There are also strong economic arguments in support of these bills while we work to avoid a recession when the dust of the COVID-19 pandemic settles. Without foreign workers, many U.S. farms will go out of business, causing a ripple effect in our economy and increasing our reliance on imported food. Likewise, TPS holders and DED recipients are employed at high rates in industries like construction, landscaping and food service that often struggle to find sufficient U.S. workers. That’s why both bills are endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”
H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, establishes a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for Dreamers and for certain individuals who either held or were eligible for TPS or DED. The majority of these individuals have been in the United States for much of their lives, often with work authorization and temporary protections against deportation. Five years after attaining full LPR status, individuals are then eligible to apply for citizenship, a path that is supported by nearly 75 percent of the American public.
H.R. 1603, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, ensures that farmers can meet their labor needs by establishing a program for agricultural workers, their spouses and minor children, who can earn legal Certified Agricultural Worker (CAW) status through continued agricultural employment. H.R. 1603 also reforms the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program to provide more flexibility for employers, while ensuring critical protections for workers. The bill establishes a mandatory, nationwide E-Verify system to ensure compliance.