How new immigration bills seek to help Dreamers, farm workers

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two immigration reform bills, in which both seek to create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented individuals. 

Last Thursday, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R. 6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 1603). 

San Jose Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, who represents the largest undocumented immigrant population in San Jose, tells KRON4 News “it is time to give the rights and liberties that they’ve earned.”

“For San Jose it’s a big deal, it’s a big deal for California, it’s a big deal for the whole country,” said Carrasco. 

“So this is the right thing to do, they’re contributing Americans to our economy, to our culture, to the way that we live, they study, they go to school, they pay taxes,” Carrasco added. 

“Some of them have been able to become extremely successful in spite of the obstacles that have been set before them, so to be able to finally give them this opportunity to be able to be in the country legally is a huge deal.”

The House passed H.R. 6 by a vote of 228-197, the bill seeks to create a path for citizenship for millions of immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) also known as “Dreamers.”

According to the authors of the bill, an estimated 2.5 million people would be impacted and more than 4.4 million would be eligible for legal permanent residence in the U.S

The bill would also provide a path to citizenship for those in the country with Temporary Protected Status, a type of humanitarian designation for immigrants coming from countries in crisis. 

“I’ve had an opportunity to speak to some folks that have been waiting for years, people who live in the shadows of our communities,” said Carrasco. 

“This is life changing, we have to remember not everybody lives in the kinds of comfort and securities that the rest of us have.”

The Dream Act does not go as far as President Joe Biden’s comprehensive plan, which would create a path to citizenship for the majority of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country. 

In addition, the Farm Workers Modernization Act (H.R. 1603) would permit farm workers, their spouses, and children to earn legal status through continued employment in the agricultural sector, changing the H-2A agricultural guest worker program. 

Workers would be eligible under the bill to receive green cards if they pay a fine and work between four and eight additional years in agriculture, all depending on how long they had already been employed in the industry. 

“I represent the East Side of San Jose and of course, we’ve been talking about immigration reform for a very long time, obviously this isn’t comprehensive immigration reform but it addresses two of the most important issues that we have right now on the table,” said Carrasco.

“For all of us who have been sheltering-in-place and terrified of the pandemic and everything that it has brought the past year, we now recognize how important our migrants and our farm workers are to our economy but to our very livelihoods,” Carrasco added. 

“The ability to be able to stay home and take care of our families and our children, we owe them a depth of gratitude.” 

Last June, the Supreme Court rejected former President Donald Trump’s effort to rescind the DACA program, protecting about 700,000 people from deportation at the time, 

The new legislation is set to move to U.S. Senate, if passed it would be the most comprehensive immigration reform in the last 35 years. 

Below is a list of community-based organizations that are helping undocumented individuals living in San Jose. 

Courtesy: SIREN

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