Last week’s reintroduction of the Dream and Promise Act by three Democrats would seem to be a moment of excitement for those who support the idea of letting people who came to America illegally as young children remain in the country. The current legislation even sets out a path to citizenship.
But some juvenile justice advocates, generally supportive of the bill’s purpose, are mounting a campaign against this particular version because thousands of Dreamers who have had involvement with the youth justice system or suspected gang affiliations would be barred from protection.
These groups argue that it’s unfair to deny Dream Act protections merely because a person was swept up in a justice system that they consider deeply and structurally unfair to Black and other people of color.
Marcy Mistrett, a senior fellow at the Sentencing Project, issued a blistering denunciation of those provisions in a statement to The Imprint.
“After four years of some of the most vile human rights violations by our country toward the immigrant population, amidst one of the longest cries for racial justice, the best we can do for our future – our Dreamers – is to allow bars to citizenship based on involvement in the youth justice system or allegations of gang activity?”
Specifically, the Sentencing Project and its allies in opposition object to new provisions that would bar Dreamers who have juvenile delinquency adjudications or who fall within an “expansive” definition of “public safety” threats or who the government labels as participating in gang-related offenses.
Mistrett said the House version includes more bars on those with juvenile system-experience than the Senate’s version, which was introduced by Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) designated the bill H.R. 6, echoing the number the Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which passed the House with some of the same groups in opposition for similar reasons. That bill died in the GOP-controlled Senate.
This legislation would essentially replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which was created by President Barack Obama in 2012 after legislative talks on the Dream Act broke down in the Senate.