Contact: Lynn Tramonte ([email protected] / 202-255-0551); Tom Salyers ([email protected] / 202- 607-1074)

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives is taking up two major immigration bills that could transform the lives of more than one million children in immigrant families. Members of the Children Thrive Action Network urge the House and Senate to pass H.R. 6 (American Dream and Promise Act) and H.R. 1603 (Farm Workforce Modernization Act) as soon as possible.

“We have never been closer to achieving immigration reform, and our communities expect these bills to become law this year,” said Wendy Cervantes, director of immigration and immigrant families at the Center for Law and Social Policy. “They have already passed the House once, and have bipartisan support. After the House passes them again, pressure will be on the U.S. Senate to finally deliver on immigration legal reforms under consideration for 20 years. This is the moment.”

Over five million children in the United States have a parent who is undocumented, or living with precarious status like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Fifty-five percent of farmworkers in the United States have children. These families continue to work hard to keep our nation moving, often without access to COVID financial relief, health care, or even vaccines. Turning these bills into law would be a major step forward in officially recognizing their contributions and securing a brighter future for these American families.

That said, the bills do contain serious flaws that must be improved as they go through the legislative process. For example, children who are too young to meet the bill’s requirements will not benefit from H.R. 6. Moreover, both bills continue to rely on outdated notions of “criminality” to exclude otherwise qualified immigrants. After a year of major movement on public opinion regarding systemic racism and the role of police in U.S. society, we cannot allow provisions that ignore, or even rely on, the over-policing of certain communities—including Black and Brown youth and low-income workers—to be perpetuated in law.

Said Ginger Cacnio of HANA Center, “HANA Center and our national partner organization NAKASEC remain committed to working to achieve a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, regardless of age, country of origin, or criminal background. In my role as a program coordinator for HANA’s Early Childhood Center, I witness first-hand the challenges experienced by our undocumented families, especially during the pandemic. Citizenship for all means our families will have access to critical supports like health care and the ability to work in safe jobs to earn a living wage, and will no longer live in fear of being separated from their families or deported.”

Added Norma Flores López, Chief Programs Officer with Justice for Migrant Women: “It is past time for all children and families in the U.S. to feel safe and be safe. For over 30 years, Congress has left members of our community with no option to regularize their immigration status, even if they are parents or spouses of U.S. citizens. Because of this, children are growing up with toxic stress and anxiety, fearing a parent’s deportation could come at any time. The good news is, there is a solution. The first step is for Congress to pass the Dream and Promise Act and Farm Workforce Modernization Act. There is a clear opportunity to pass these bills into law this year. After that, we must continue to reform immigration laws until every child in the United States can focus on being a child, not living in fear.”

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The Children Thrive Action Network (CTAN) is a group of national, state, and local organizations working to defend and support children in mixed-status immigrant families. Organizations committed to this mission can join the network here.