New legislation affirms the importance of middle-skill pathways and immigrant workforce to our economy
The House of Representatives yesterday voted 237-187 to pass H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019. Those voting for the bill included 230 Democrats and seven Republicans. It was the first time that the full House had voted on a bill to address the status of immigrant Dreamers since 2010. The bill was supported by an exceptionally broad array of organizations, including the AFL-CIO and the US Chamber of Commerce, which designated it a key vote.
Lead sponsors on the bill were Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), and Nydia Velázquez (D-NY). The legislation affirms the crucial role immigrant workers play in the US economy -- where they represent 1 in 6 American workers overall -- and the vital importance of middle-skill jobs.
The Dream and Promise Act addresses barriers faced by a key subset of approximately 2.7 million immigrants. It provides a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants, and ensures a stable future for adult immigrants who have been living and working under Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
Legislation Reflects Voters’ Priorities
The legislation reflects National Skills Coalition’s longstanding advocacy for a middle-skills pathway for immigrant Dreamers and sends an important message: the American economy depends on working people and immigrants with middle-skill credentials, not just those with college degrees.
Recent polling shows that the American public strongly values having multiple pathways to good jobs. Voters across the political spectrum voice overwhelming support for investments in skills, with more than 80 percent endorsing policies that allow workers to pursue technical training, apprenticeships, shorter-term credentials, and other skill-building opportunities.
The role of middle-skill credentials in the Dream Act
In order for immigrant Dreamers to attain permanent legal status under this bill, they would need to meet a host of requirements in different areas. One option for meeting the bill’s educational requirements is to earn a degree from a postsecondary institution (including vocational and proprietary schools), or complete 2 years towards a bachelor’s degree, or earn a certificate or credential from an area postsecondary CTE school.
Read more about the bill’s requirements in our March 26 blog post on the introduction of the Dream and Promise Act. (Please note that some provisions originally proposed in the bill, such as the repeal of a 1996 provision regarding states' ability to provide in-state tuition to Dreamers, were not included in the final legislation.)
Next steps in Congress: What advocates can do
While HR 6 has passed the House, its prospects in the Senate are much more uncertain, and President Trump has already threatened to veto it.
However, a Dreamer bill in the Senate does have bipartisan support, with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) serving as lead sponsors of the Dream Act of 2019, S. 874. While the bill is somewhat different from the House bill, it does include NSC’s recommended middle-skills pathway to citizenship.
Skills advocates should urge their Senators to take action on this legislation. NSC resources available for advocacy include our 50-state fact sheets about the demand for middle skill workers in each state.