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Get To Know The Dream Act Of 2017 And How We Got To This Important Bill

Now that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been rescinded with a six-month delay, focus will be shifting to Congress to come up with a solution to help DACA recipients achieve permanent legal status in the U.S. The thing is, there is already a solution that has been introduced: the Dream Act of 2017. All that needs to happen is for Congress to take action, bring the bill to a vote, then send it up to President Trump to sign it into law. It has been two months since the bill was introduced and it is still sitting in different committees in the House and Senate.

The Trump administration has announced that DACA is going the be rescinded and Congress has six months to act.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was tasked with the responsibility of breaking the news to the American public despite White House officials saying President Trump would be making the announcement. Then, after some widespread and serious criticism for the move, Trump tweeted that it is up to Congress to find a solution now that his administration ended the program.

Which shouldn’t be hard since both a House and Senate Dream Act bill were introduced in July 2017.

H.R.3440 and S.1615, also referred to as Dream Act of 2017, was introduced with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. What the Dream Act of 2017 aims to do is create a pathway to citizenship to the almost 800,000 young people who are part of the DACA program, so long as they followed a list of requirements.

“There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. I’m proud to have presented the DREAM Act, along with my colleague, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, to give young men and women the opportunity to stay in this country, a country that they love,” Ros-Lehtinen says. “This bipartisan and bicameral legislation is just one of many initiatives in Congress aimed to protect our DREAMers from deportation and allow them the opportunity to continue living and working in the U.S. and, one day, become proud American citizens. I have been urging my colleagues in Congress to hold an up-or-down vote on any bill that protects these young people who actively contribute to our great nation.”

But, wasn’t there already a Dream Act that didn’t pass? What does this new one mean?

CREDIT: mitú

Good questions. Yes. The Dream Act, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, was first introduced in August 2001. It was supposed to legalize undocumented youth that had been brought to the U.S. when they were children and had grown up in the U.S. There wasn’t too much attention to that first draft and it wasn’t until 2010 that there was a big push to pass the Dream Act during President Obama’s time in office. The 2010 bill would have allowed the following:

“Authorizes: (1) the Secretary to cancel removal and grant conditional nonimmigrant status to an alien who has satisfied all the conditional status and certain permanent resident status requirements prior to enactment of this Act; and (2) an alien who has met the appropriate requirements during the entire period of conditional nonimmigrant status to apply for permanent resident status,” according to Congress.gov.

Despite a 2010 version of the Dream Act coming up for a vote in Congress, it failed to get enough votes to pass which ultimately prompted Obama to create DACA.

CREDIT: mitú

The Dream Act came up for a vote in 2010 and died in the Senate. The final vote tally was 55 yes (50 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 2 Independents), 41 no (36 Republicans and 5 Democrats), and 4 abstentions (1 Democrat and 3 Republicans). While the majority of the Senate voted for the Dream Act, they needed to reach 60 votes, or a two-thirds majority, to enact what is known as a cloture. If you can get two-thirds of the vote, you can then bring the bill to a vote on the floor bypassing any opposition’s attempt at a filibuster. A filibuster is when someone holds the floor (literally standing or sitting on the house floor), for as long as they can to prevent a vote on a bill. One example is Senator Ted Cruz’s failed attempt of a filibuster, where he read “Green Eggs and Ham” to stop the Affordable Care Act.

Now, don’t get the Dream Act and DACA confused because they are both very different in regards to what they actually do for those enrolled in either program.

CREDIT: mitú

DACA and the Dream Act are not the same thing. DACA is an executive order that was signed by President Obama that allowed for undocumented youth to apply for work permits and get driver’s licenses, and it protected them from deportation. It did not offer any pathway to citizenship and was temporary, requiring recipients to renew their DACA status every two years. The Dream Act would allow for undocumented youth to get work permits, driver’s licenses and spare them from deportation as well, but also opens up a pathway to citizenship.

The Dream Act would essentially give DACA recipients a roadmap to go from undocumented to citizens over a span of about 13 years.

“America has already invested in these young people by educating them in our schools, and they are now a vital part of our workforce. They contribute to our economic growth and our society as teachers, engineers, nurses and small business owners,” Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard said in a statement. “The DREAM Act would strengthen America by keeping these talented and ambitious young people in our country, rather than losing their talents to foreign competitors.”

First, the person wanting to benefit from the Dream Act of 2017 would have to transition to conditional permanent residency.

To do this, they would have to fit the following requirements:

  1. Be undocumented, on DACA or on temporary protected status. This includes people with removal orders or currently in removal proceedings.
  2. They had to have entered the U.S. before turning 18.
  3. They have to be physically in the U.S. consistently for 4 years before the Dream Act is enacted and have a continuous presence in the U.S. until they apply.
  4. They have to be admitted to a college, university or other institution of higher learning, earned a high school diploma or GED or be currently enrolled in a program to get a high school education or GED.
  5. They cannot have been convicted of certain criminal acts.
  6. They have to pass a medical examination as well as a background check.

“When Republicans say we should not legalize people until we start addressing the fundamentals of a broken immigration system, they’re not wrong,” Senator Lindsey Graham, co-sponsor of the Senate Dream Act bill, said in an interview with Fox and Friends.

After being on conditional permanent residency for 8 years, people can then apply for lawful permanent residency.

In order to qualify for lawful permanent residency, those applying would have to fit the following requirements:

  1. Have a record free of certain criminal convictions.
  2. They cannot have abandoned their residency in the U.S.
  3. They must have acquired a high education degree or completed two years of a bachelor’s degree, served at least two years in the military or been employed for a total of at least three years. There is a hardship possibility for those who can’t fulfill either of these.
  4. They must demonstrate the ability to read, write and speak in English while showing a working knowledge of U.S. civics.
  5. Pass a background check.

“Starting this countdown clock will require Congress to act fast to stop rolling mass deportations of hundreds of thousands of young people—students, teachers, doctors, engineers, first responders, servicemembers and more,” Senator Richard Durbin, one of the authors of the original Dream Act in 2001, said in a statement. “Families will be torn apart and America will lose many of our best and brightest unless Republicans join with Democrats to right this wrong immediately. I first introduced the Dream Act sixteen years ago to ensure these young people could stay here, in the only country they’ve ever known. Now Congress must act on this bipartisan bill, and act now. These families cannot wait.”

Then, after 5 years on lawful permanent residency, those in the system can then apply for full U.S. citizenship.

Overall, the Dream Act of 2017 will allow for people to get U.S. citizenship after a 13-year process. Yet, it would immediately take away the possibility of deportation as applicants begin the process to become U.S. citizens.

The Dream Act of 2017 would also ease the burden of people going to college.

It will do away with section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that dissuades states from giving undocumented immigrants in-state tuition or any higher education benefits.

Now, all we can do is wait and see if Congress will pass the Dream Act this time to save almost 800,000 people from deportation.

Trump made Sessions give the announcement that DACA was being rescinded and then threw the problem to Congress. It is up to them to fix the mess his administration has caused for DACA.


READ: The DREAM Act Has Been Reintroduced And It May Have A Winning Chance This Time

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Cardi B Has An Important Message About The Deaths Of George Floyd And Breonna Taylor

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Cardi B Has An Important Message About The Deaths Of George Floyd And Breonna Taylor

@TheAmirVera, @danicapaige08 / Twitter

Thank heavens for Cardi B because boy does the Dominican rapper know how to use her voice.

Since her rise to fame, the hitmaker has made a point to use her platform to raise awareness of the issues she finds important. From politics to our world leaders, the rapper has done her due diligence to break down current events to her followers.

Fortunately, she’s up to it again.

Last week, the rapper took to Twitter to open up about the protests breaking out across the country in an effort to demand justice for the wrongful deaths of Black people killed by police.

You might have already heard about the protests that broke out over the weekend which outcried the wrongful deaths of two Black people: George Floyd a Black man from Minnesota who was killed while being restrained by the police on May 25. The other, Breonna Taylor a 26-year-old woman, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police officers on March 13, 2020.

In regards to their recent deaths, Cardi B  shared her thoughts and a call to action.

“Seeing people looting and going extremely outraged, you know, it makes me feel like, ‘Yes, finally! Finally motherf****** is gonna hear us now. Yeah!’” the rapper said in her Instagram post. “And as much as people is so against it, at this point, I feel like I’m not against it, even though it do scare me and I don’t want anybody to get hurt, but it’s really frustrating. You want to know why? Because police brutality been going on even way before I was born, but it has been more visual ever since social media started getting poppin.’ And ever since, let’s say Instagram started–just one app–let’s say since Instagram started, how many peaceful protests have we seen? How many trending hashtags have we seen? These hashtags keep freakin’ repeating themselves. I feel like I’ve done videos against police brutality… I feel like this is my seventh time. I’ve been doing f*ckin’ police brutality videos ever since my teeth been f*cked up, and the only shit that changed has been my f****** teeth. You know what I’m saying? People are tired, so now their tired is showing that it’s, “Oh motherf*ckers are educated. Motherf*ckers can take the grown and adult way and act peaceful people are tired of that, so now this is what people have to resort to.”

Cardi B continued her post telling her fans to vote in the upcoming general elections.

“And another thing, I also want to say this: Another way for people to take power–I don’t want to make everything political, but it is what it is–it’s by voting. And when I say voting, I’m not only talking about the President. We could vote for mayors. We could vote for judges, and we could also vote for DA’s–district attorneys. Yes, we could vote for these people, for our county. We sure can. The people that are voting for these people are most likely cops, most likely rednecks; that’s why every single time some fuck shit like this happens, it goes to their favor, because these people have the power–DA’s, these judges, these attorneys–they have the power to prosecute these cops when they do f***s***,” she said

It didn’t take long for users to respond to Cardi’s post with support and words of heartbreak.

We will win this!

Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

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Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

VisitPR / Instagram

Puerto Rican’s are no stranger to referendums. Since 1967, they’ve had five chances to make their opinions known on U.S. statehood and each and every time, their voice hasn’t been listened to. Congress has failed to take up the issue after each referendum and local leaders are often guilty of using the referendum simply to drudge up support for their candidates.

But this upcoming referendum is different in that it comes at a crossroads for Puerto Rican politics. The island has been plagued by natural disasters, political scandals, and unprecedented hate crimes. Even Bad Bunny is letting his thoughts out on the referendum and many others have lots to say on the issue.

For the first time in the island’s history, the referendum will ask a single question: Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S. state?

On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood Republican governor, Wanda Vázquez, announced yet another vote on the question (the sixth since 1967 and the third since 2012). It’s a move that comes amid growing frustration with the island’s territorial government and its relationship with the mainland.

However, it’s a question that also outraged the island’s independence supporters and members of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party – which supports the status quo.

But it’s a gamble that members of the governor’s pro-statehood party are confident will pay off given that Puerto Rico has struggled to obtain federal funds for hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of recent strong earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic amid growing complaints that the island does not receive fair and equal treatment.

“Our people will have the opportunity once and for all to define our future,” Vázquez said. “It’s never too late to be treated as equals.”

The upcoming referendum is just the recent in a long line of previously failed ones.

In the past, voters have been asked more than one question and presented with various options, including independence or continuing with the current territorial status – but none of them have ever been as direct as the upcoming one scheduled for the November 3 general election.

However, many on the island see the referendum as little more than a political move by the governor’s New Progressive Party to get voters out on Nov 3 – to boost her party’s candidates.

The New Progressive Party has been rattled with scandal after scandal and many are ready for change.

The past few years have not been good for the party – or the island for that matter. A string of devastating hurricanes, a severe debt crisis, ongoing corruption scandals that even forced a pro-statehood governor to resign, earthquakes, and now a global pandemic – have all led to challenging times in Puerto Rico. To some observers, the idea seems to be: Let’s dangle the illusion of a yes or no statehood referendum (nonbinding) that is already dead on arrival?

Many also feel that Gov. Vasquez is not truly authorized to make such a decision since she was never actually elected to the office. Instead, she became governor after Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign following massive protests.

Meanwhile, the Republican government on the island doesn’t even have the support of the Republican-led federal government. The Trump administration’s blunt response was basically, “The first priority for all Puerto Rico leaders should be getting their financial house in order.”

This coming November, there will be plenty of incentive to vote “no” and punish the Vázquez administration. Even prominent figures such as Bad Bunny are jumping into the fray against her leadership.

What would statehood mean for Puerto Rico?

Statehood would award Puerto Rico two senators and five representatives, but it’s unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress would acknowledge the referendum because Puerto Rico tends to favor Democrats.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. And while the island is exempt from the U.S. federal income tax, it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than U.S. states. Many believe the island’s territorial status has contributed to its struggle to recover from the hurricanes and earthquakes, as well as worsened its economic crisis, largely caused by decades of heavy borrowing and the elimination of federal tax incentives.