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Immigration

Seven House Republicans Join Democrats in Voting to Amnesty 2.1 Million Non-Citizens

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.) speaks during an interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., February 14, 2017. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Seven House Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues Tuesday in voting for legislation that would grant permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for more than 2 million undocumented immigrants.

The American Dream and Promise Act grants amnesty to more than 1 million immigrants brought to the country illegally when they were under the age of 18, including roughly 700,000 migrants shielded from deportation by then-president Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action.

The bill also applies to the hundreds of thousands of migrants admitted to the country under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is intended for those fleeing violence or natural disasters, and the roughly 4,000 Liberians covered by George W. Bush’s 2007 Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) executive order.

Taken together, the various designations cover roughly 2.1 million migrants, the Center for American Progress said in a Monday statement.

The legislation would grant conditional permanent residency to the eligible immigrants for ten years and provide them a path to citizenship if they meet certain educational and employment requirements. It passed the House 236–187 with unanimous support from Democrats, who were joined by Republicans Don Bacon of Nebraska, Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Will Hurd of Texas, Fred Upton of Michigan, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Dan Newhouse of Washington, and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Republican critics of the legislation passed Tuesday have argued that it further incentivizes illegal immigration and fails to address the threat posed by the record influx of migrants arriving at the southern border.

“This bill does nothing to address our crisis,” said Representative Mike D. Rogers (R., Ala.). “Instead, it tells an entire generation of illegal immigrants that breaking our laws is rewarded.”

Democrats, Rogers said, “would rather reward illegal immigrants than secure our borders, enforce our laws, and fix this crisis.”

The legislation does, however, prevent the provision of state funding for undocumented immigrants’ higher education if the same programs are not made available to all U.S. citizens.

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