Washington, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The US House of Representatives on Thursday once again approved an immigration bill seeking to regularize the status of millions of young undocumented migrants known as “Dreamers” and to provide benefits under the Temporary Protected Status program to hundreds of thousands of foreigners living in this country The bill was approved in a 228-197 vote with all Democrats and nine Republican lawmakers voting in favor.
According to estimates by its sponsors, some 2.5 million young people who were brought to this country as small children by their parents – the so-called Dreamers – could benefit under the bill which establishes a path to citizenship.
Former President Barack Obama (2009-2017) approved a bill temporarily regularizing the status of those young people for the first time, but the Republicans took it to court and since then it has been mired in a lengthy legal battle.
Besides the Dreamers, the bill also sets forth a path to citizenship for TPS beneficiaries, a move that could benefit some 400,000 people, most of them Central Americans and Haitians who were taken in by the US after natural disasters or civil conflicts in their homelands.
The bill approved on Thursday is a very similar version to a lower house bill approved in 2019 but which did not pass in the Senate, which at the time was under GOP control.
Now, Democrats control the Senate, but for the bill to be approved it would need at least 10 Republican votes there for a total of 60 votes altogether, something that is uncertain at the moment.
This bill is one part of a big immigration reform package that the White House is pushing forward in Congress, a plan that intends to regularize the immigration status of 11 million undocumented foreigners but which lacks the necessary support among Republican lawmakers.
Also forming part of this package is a second bill that the House is scheduled to vote on on Friday seeking to regularize the status of agricultural workers.
Democrats have put forward the immigration package in pieces since they feel that this strategy can help them garner more support for its individual parts from GOP lawmakers.
However, Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy alluded to the current situation on the US-Mexico border with the arrival of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and migrant families there to justify his opposition to the measure.
With what is happening now on the border, this is probably the worst time for Democrats to be offering this kind of plan, McCarthy said.