American Hope Act Introduced To Protect Immigrant Youth And Those With DACA
Washington, DC – On Friday, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) introduced the American Hope Act of 2017, a bill to give those with DACA and others who arrived in the United States as children a path to permanent legal status and eventual citizenship. He was joined at a press conference in the Capitol by an impressive array of Democratic House leaders and his colleagues on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Judiciary Committee who are among the 112 co-sponsors of the bill at the time of introduction.
The bill, if enacted, gives immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before their 18th birthday and before December 31, 2016 an opportunity to apply for legal status if they meet certain requirements. If approved, they would receive a form of conditional legal status (Conditional Permanent Resident status or CPR) that would allow them to live and work here legally for three years and then they could apply for Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status. For those who currently have DACA, the time in DACA counts towards time in CPR status so that they would move forward more quickly.
Rep. Gutierrez said in his opening remarks at today’s press conference:
“DACA is under threat and we know that President Trump and the Attorney General, if he is still in office, will not lift a finger to defend DACA. This will replace the order in the lives of these young people with chaos. It will replace the hope they have for their futures with despair. It substitutes cruelty for their aspirations and the aspirations of our entire immigrant population. All of us here support DACA. We fought for DACA and we will defend DACA. And the defense includes putting on the table legislation that charts a way forward.”
In addition to Rep. Gutiérrez, the speakers at today’s press conference included House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05), House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (NY-14), CHC First Vice Chair Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Ranking Member on Homeland Security Subcommittee Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Ranking Member on House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu (CA-27), Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rep. Ruben Kihuen (NV-04), and (on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus) Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33).
The press conference was live streamed (via Facebook) and can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/2h9tjSP
The American Hope Act of 2017 bill text: American Hope Act Text FINAL.pdf
A summary of the American Hope Act of 2017: One Page Summary of American Hope Act of 2017.pdf
The “Dear Colleague” letter sent to Democratic Offices by Rep. Lofgren, Roybal-Allard, Gutiérrez and Lujan Grisham: Dear Colleague Letter on American Hope Act to Dems from Gutierrez Lofgren Roybal-Allard and Lujan Grisham 072717.pdf
The text of Rep. Gutiérrez’s remarks today, as prepared for delivery, is below.
Rep. Gutiérrez is in his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois. He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Task Force on Immigration and Border Issues of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Remarks // July 28, 2017
Those of us who know and work with our immigrant communities and live with our immigrant communities know that immigrants are integral parts of our country and our future and that we need to move forward from division and do what we can to incorporate immigrants into our society.
President Obama asked young immigrants, those who arrived here as children, to come forward to register for DACA, the deferred action program, and almost 800,000 immigrant youth came forward and registered, went through a background check and regularly renew their status.
They were able to add order to their lives – to work, study, and help their families. It has been a tremendous success and based on the young people I spoke with in my office yesterday – the CHCI Capitol Hill interns, some of whom have DACA – they are making the most of the chance they were given to live openly and freely.
But now DACA is under threat and we know that President Trump and the Attorney General, if he is still in office, will not lift a finger to defend DACA. This will replace the order in the lives of these young people with chaos. It will replace the hope they have for their futures with despair. It substitutes cruelty for their aspirations and the aspirations of our entire immigrant population.
All of us here support DACA. We fought for DACA and we will defend DACA. And the defense includes putting on the table legislation that charts a way forward.
The American Hope Act, which as of right now has over 110 confirmed original co-sponsors, gives immigrant youth who arrived in the United States before their 18th birthday and before December 31, 2016 a chance to come forward and apply for Conditional Permanent Resident status if they meet certain criteria and have clean records. After three years they can apply to have the conditions of the status removed and get a full-fledged green card if they stay out of trouble and want to apply.
And if you have DACA, your time in DACA counts towards your time in conditional status so that you move forward more quickly.
Meeting with CHCI interns yesterday impressed on me the hope and the innocence of youth, the unbounded potential of young people to contribute to their country and build a better society. But those who have DACA and those who have no status at all are scared and we have to be able to tell them we are fighting for you, for young people like you, for young people who want to do great things for themselves, for their families and for our country.
We cannot let chaos and division ruin the inherent goodness and optimism of young people.
So we are charting a course forward, and I want to thank my partners, Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren and Ranking Member Lucille Roybal-Allard for working with me to craft this bill and working with me to unite Democrats around immigrant youth.
And while this bill focusses on immigrant youth, we know that they are only part of the immigration issue so we will continue to work together on other components of what needs to happen to make immigration legal again, but with DACA in the crosshairs of the Republican Party, they are our focus today. We are not picking good immigrants versus bad immigrants or deserving versus undeserving, we are working to defend those who live among us and should have a place in our society.
And we know that our path is not the only path forward. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the House and Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham in the Senate have the new DREAM Act which is a bipartisan approach to the same goal of giving those with DACA and those who arrived here as children a way forward.
And there are good men and women in the House – in the Republican Party – that have their own proposal and we are not arrogant enough to believe that our approach is the only approach.
Good men and women in both parties should be working together to solve the problem that immigrant youth face, which is that they cannot get legal status and they cannot leave and come back legally, but this is the country they live in and were raised in and is for most of them the only country they know.
And let’s be clear, the immigrant communities in this country can see today that I am standing here with an incredible array of the Democratic Party and the top leaders in our Party in the House and I thank you, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Joe Crowley, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and everyone, I thank you.
And our community thanks you.
# # #