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US Democrats introduce bill to protect Dreamers

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Washington, March 13 (IANS) Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have presented a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for thousands of immigrants shielded under assorted protection programmes, including the so-called "Dreamers" who were brought to the country as children.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard and other House Democrats unveiled the "Dream and Promise Act" on Tuesday, which would protect "Dreamers" and immigrants with temporary protected status or deferred enforced departure, CNN reported.

"There should be nothing partisan or political in this legislation," said Pelosi, who was flanked by House Democrats and immigrants, in introducing the bill.

"Protecting Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) Americans is about honouring and respecting the family that is the heart of our faith and the heart of who we are as Americans."

According to CNN, the bill would provide a greater sense of security to a large swathe of undocumented immigrants whose fate has been tied up in the courts. Its enactment is unlikely, however, as it would face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate and President Donald Trump has voiced objections to such programmes.

The nearly 700,000 beneficiaries of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, which shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children from deportation, have been in limbo since the Trump administration tried to end the programme in 2017, prompting a slew of lawsuits.

The bill would grant "Dreamers" with conditional permanent resident status for 10 years and cancel removal proceedings if requirements are met. The criteria is similar to what DACA recipients have to meet, including graduating from high school or obtaining a GED.

"It’s a big priority for our caucus," Representative Roybal-Allard said. "There is a lot of support for the Dreamers from both sides of the aisle."

Since he took office, Trump has tried to suspend DACA and he cancelled TPS for countries like Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, forcing citizens of those nations living in the US to choose among other avenues to legalize their status.

DACA protects its beneficiaries from deportation and in certain cases authorizes them to obtain temporary work and driver’s licenses, benefits that they must renew every two years.

TPS was created in 1990 and grants extraordinary permission to live and work in the US to nationals of countries affected by armed conflicts or natural disasters.

The DED is similar to TPS and allows people who, if they were to be returned to their home countries, could be endangered due to an unstable political situation or natural disasters, to delay deportation.