The House of Representatives has passed a new version of the DREAM Act, which would grant a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children through no fault of their own.
"This is a day that glorifies what America is to the world. A place of refuge, a place of safety, a place of opportunity," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D–Md.) said at a press conference before the vote.
The bill applies to the hundreds of thousands of so-called "Dreamers" enrolled in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected those immigrants from threat of imminent deportation, as well as 1.6 million immigrants who arrived in the country at a young age but have not registered with DACA. Temporary Protected Status recipients—who fled nations affected by humanitarian crises or environmental disasters—would also be eligible for permanent status, as would the small group of Liberian immigrants covered by Deferred Enforced Departure, a similar program for immigrants whose home countries are plagued with civic conflict or natural catastrophes.
Although the policy initiative has bipartisan support across the country, only seven House Republicans voted in favor of the measure. The bill now heads to the Senate, but Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) has already announced his intention to block the legislation from a floor vote.
"The Dreamers have a sympathetic case. There are circumstances under which I and others would be happy to support that," McConnell said yesterday on Fox News Radio. "But we need to do more than that. You know there's some genuine fixes on the legal immigration side and on the illegal immigration side that need to be addressed. There is a perfectly legitimate case for the Dreamers…but I think we need to do more than just that. And that's the context in which I would deal with that issue in the Senate."
President Donald Trump put an end to DACA in July 2017, and he has since leveraged the precarious legal status of the "Dreamers" to push for a border wall and other hardline immigration policies. McConnell is on board with Trump's endgame, refusing to play ball with Democrats on a legislative fix that many Republican senators—including McConnell himself—likely support.
Trump has threatened to veto the DREAM Act if it successfully makes its way through the Senate. Until that changes, McConnell will almost certainly continue to deflect the bill in order to quash any impression of a fractured party.