Things That Matter

House Democrats Pass The DREAM Act And Millions Of Lives Could Change Forever

Undocumented immigrants. Children of undocumented immigrants. People in the US with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) fleeing violence or war in their countries. Everyone is celebrating the huge milestone made in the House of Representatives yesterday, as the chamber passed the DREAM Act.

The House of Representatives passed a bill that prevents immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children from being deported and gives them permanent residency along with a path to citizenship.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 237-187.

Credit: @CBSNews / Twitter

With a handful of Republican votes, House Democrats passed the latest version of the DREAM Act, an ambitious expansion of a nearly two-decades-long legislative effort that would place millions of young undocumented immigrants and immigrants with temporary status on a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The Democratic-led chamber approved the sweeping immigration bill, dubbed the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019, by a vote of 237 to 187.

Seven Republicans in the House joined 230 Democrats in voting for the bill. No Democrats voted against the measure.

Although it’s unlikely to be brought to a vote in the Senate, and Trump has already issued a veto threat, people couldn’t help but celebrate the achievement.

With the changes to this bill, entire communities would face new, more certain futures.

Credit: @UNITEDWEDREAM / Twitter

The proposal would grant young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, including those shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an opportunity to acquire permanent lawful status if they meet certain requirements. The bill would also allow hundreds of thousands of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients — as well as Liberian immigrants covered by Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) — to gain permanent residency.

Many Latino and Latina politicians took to Twitter to share their excitement and pride.

AOC herself reminded everyone that moments like these make all the drama, fighting, and campaigning worth it.

Rep. Ilhan Omar shared her own story and how much this bill means to her.

Credit: @IlhanMN / Twitter

Rep. Omar, who has been a vocal critic of the Trump administrations approach to immigration, said the fight wasn’t over yet.

The reactions on the Latino Twitter-sphere were everything.

Credit: @MamiChampangne / Twitter

Some woke up to the news and couldn’t believe what it could mean for their lives.

Many wanted to address their undocumented hermanos right away.

Credit: @zripena / Twitter

Even if this bill doesn’t become law, the community is a familia and will keep fighting until it does.

Many saw this as proof that their parents were right and that they hoped to do their parents proud.

Credit: @AlanRRosales / Twitter

If this bill were to become law, tens of thousands of students would be eligible for tuition assistance and would be able to attend college. They’d be able to help work towards that better life their parents so badly want them to have.

Some were just flat out emotional over the breaking news.

Credit: @orrchards / Twitter

To be placed on a pathway to citizenship under the bill, these young immigrants must earn a college degree or complete two years of a degree program in an institution of higher education or technical school. They would also qualify if they served honorably in the military or have been employed in the U.S. for more than three years.

The proposal would also grant this group of young undocumented immigrant access to federal financial aid for college.

DED and TPS recipients, meanwhile, would be able to obtain permanent residency if they have resided in the U.S. for more than three years before the proposed legislation is enacted and if they do not have any felony convictions or more than one misdemeanor.

Despite the bill’s bleak prospects in the Senate, House Democrats believe the passage of one of their signature legislative issues will convey to the electorate that they continue using their majority to push through meaningful legislation.

“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 said at a press conference before the vote, citing a speech in which Republican President Ronald Reagan said the U.S. is a “better nation” because of immigrants.

“We will send it to the Senate and then we’ll keep on keeping on until it is the law of the land,” Hoyer added.

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Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Things That Matter

Biden Says He Will Introduce An Immigration Bill “Immediately” But What Will Be In It?

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

During the 2020 election, Latinos were a massive electoral voting bloc. In fact, for the first time ever, the Latino vote outnumbered the Black vote. According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 32 million eligible Latino voters and that accounts for 13 percent of all eligible voters. 

And, Latinos helped deliver the presidency to Joe Biden. So it can be expected that the community has high expectations for Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises of immigration reform.

During a recent speech about his first 100 days in office, Joe Biden outlined his priorities once he’s sworn in on January 20th, and said he would “immediately” send an immigration bill to congress.

Joe Biden promises swift action on immigration reform as soon as he takes office.

Over the weekend, President-Elect Joe Biden promised he would take swift action when it comes to immigration reform and rolling back many of the cruel and dangerous policies put into place by the Trump administration.

“I will introduce an immigration bill immediately,” he said in a news conference on Friday.

Although he didn’t go into detail regarding the proposed legislation, he’s previously committed to ending Trump’s ban on immigration from predominantly Muslim nations, and that he wants a path to citizenship for Dreamers, and an increase in guest worker permits to help bring undocumented agricultural workers – many of whom are now considered “essential workers” – out of the shadows.

Biden had already promised an immigration overhaul within the first 100 days of his presidency but this commitment definitely increases the pressure on him and congress to get things done.

Biden also said his justice department will investigate the policy of child separation.

During the same press conference, Biden said that his Justice Department will determine responsibility for the family separation program, which led to more than 2,600 children being taken from caregivers after crossing the U.S. southern border, and whether it was criminal.

“There will be a thorough, thorough investigation of who is responsible, and whether or not the responsibility is criminal,” Biden said. That determination will be made by his attorney general-designate, Merrick Garland, he added.

During the campaign, Biden finally took responsibility for many of his administration’s immigration failures.

Nicknamed the “Deporter in Chief,” Obama deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history with over 3 million deportations during his time in office. 

But as part of that administration, Joe Biden is also complicit. That’s why during the campaign he seemed to acknowledge at least some of the pain the duo caused.

“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden Administration, and he believes we must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers,” Biden’s immigration plan reads. 

While Obama’s methods pale in comparison to the cruel tactics like family separation, inhumane conditions, and targeted raids, the impact the deportations have had on families is cannot be quantified.

Biden, like any Vice President, is put in the position of having to defend his president, but also himself as the future president. This isn’t a bad thing, Biden must distinguish himself from his predecessor but if the shadow of Obama’s legacy is buying him goodwill, it might be difficult to undermine that administration’s stances.

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Latino Lawmakers Help Make History As The House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana Across The Country

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Latino Lawmakers Help Make History As The House Votes To Decriminalize Marijuana Across The Country

David McNew/Getty Images

With much of the nation’s attention focused on the Coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s refusal to concede an election he lost, recent news of a vote in the House of Representatives may have slipped by unnoticed. But it shouldn’t.

The House just made history as it voted to decriminalize cannabis, a historic symbolic moment marking Congress’ very late to the party move toward embracing the views held by a large majority of Americans.

The bill was spearheaded by House Democrats and the entire Congressional Hispanic Caucus voted in favor of the bill, helping ensure its passage. Although it’s largely seen as a symbolic victory for marijuana rights advocates – since the Senate isn’t likely to act: Senate Republicans have indicated there’s no appetite to pass the measure.

The House of Representatives made history by passing a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

For the first time in history, a bill decriminalizing marijuana has passed the lower chamber of congress and although it stands zero chance of becoming law, it’s a major milestone towards marijuana legalization.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act passed the house with 228 in favor and 164 opposed, with only five Republicans voting in favor of the measure and six Democrats voting against it, according to ABC News.

From here, the bill will be sent to the Senate, where the measure will be reviewed for a second time. It’s unlikely that the Republican-led Senate will approve the bill, but seeing it move forward could mean a noticeably positive impact on the health of people across the country and on the U.S. at a societal level.

“Millions of Americans’ lives have been upended as a result of convictions for possessing small amounts of marijuana, and the racial disparities in conviction rates for those offenses are as shocking as they are unjust,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a statement after the vote, according to CNN. “That’s why we passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act today.”

The bill would importantly help those who have been convicted in the past of non-violent marijuana offenses.

The MORE Act aims to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, which would finally allow states to regulate it as they see fit, which many states are already doing.

Perhaps most importantly, it would also expunge past convictions for marijuana possession and require resentencing for those in prison for pot convictions. The bill also authorizes a federal tax on marijuana sales that would begin at 5 percent, funds which advocates say would be used to reinvest in communities that have suffered from the war on drugs.

The bill would also ban government agencies from using marijuana as a reason to deny people federally subsidized housing or to adversely impact their immigration status.

American’s opinions on marijuana use has changed dramatically in a short time and federal law needs to catch up.

Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

Less than a decade ago, recreational marijuana was illegal in all 50 states. Now, as of December 2020, 15 states allow recreational use of marijuana (with Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voting to allow it in 2020) in addition to the 38 states that allow medical marijuana.

That’s a rapid shift. And one that the federal government hasn’t kept up with. As voters across the country embrace legal weed, it’s remained completely illegal at the federal level, treated as the same category as cocaine and heroine.

Americans support marijuana legalization by a two-to-one margin, according to polls, numbers that have almost completely flipped in the past two decades. That support includes majorities of Republicans and vast majorities of Democrats and independents.

“We’re not rushing to legalize marijuana. The American people have already done that. We’re here because Congress has failed to deal with a disastrous war on drugs and do its part for the over 15 million marijuana users in every one of your districts,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and one of the bill’s chief architects, during House floor debate Friday morning before the vote. “It’s time for Congress to step up and do its part. We need to catch up with the rest of the American people.”

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