FAQ: American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

MARCH 29, 2019

On March 12, 2019, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives led by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), and Yvette Clarke (NY-09) announced the introduction of the American Dream and Promise Act (ADPA). The bill would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for certain immigrants whose future in the U.S., the country they call home, has been thrown into uncertainty by the Trump administration’s decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and not to extend temporary protected status (TPS) and deferred enforcement departure (DED) designation for certain countries. Injunctions in place allow for the processing of DACA renewal applications and have blocked the termination of TPS for certain countries, but we don’t know how long these injunctions will remain in place.

ADPA, as introduced, is a strong bill. During its rollout, the bill already had 208 cosponsors. However, a lot of work remains to be done to ensure its passage in the strongest form possible. We must continue to pressure all federal lawmakers to support inclusive legislation that excludes harmful enforcement provisions and that will protect as many people as possible. Our communities have faced tremendous uncertainty since the Trump administration announced on September 5, 2017, that it was terminating DACA, and since even earlier — since the administration first began announcing that it was not renewing TPS designations. Most recently, the administration waited until the last minute to renew the designation of Liberia as a country whose nationals qualify for DED; the designation was set to expire on March 31, 2019, but the administration announced on March 28 that it would be extended for one year.

So it’s time to end the uncertainty these communities are experiencing by passing the American Dream and Promise Act now.

Since ADPA’s introduction, we’ve received questions from the public that we’ve compiled below. For a short summary of the bill, see Summary of Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6). For a more detailed summary, see Dream and Promise Act of 2019: Section-by-Section Summary. For a comparison of DACA, the Senate’s Dream Act of 2019, and this bill, see Side by Side: DACA and Provisions of Dream Act of 2019 and American Dream and Promise Act of 2019.

The information provided below is based on what we know to date and is not legal advice. We encourage you to periodically revisit this document for updates and additional information. We also encourage you to contact us at [email protected] with any questions that could potentially be added to a later version of this document.


Contents

GENERAL QUESTIONS

PATHWAY TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR IMMIGRANT YOUTH, INCLUDING DACA RECIPIENTS

PATHWAY TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR PEOPLE WITH TPS OR DED

EDUCATION-RELATED

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED


GENERAL QUESTIONS

I am familiar with DACA but I’m not sure what TPS and DED are. Can you tell me more about these programs?

Temporary protected status (TPS) is granted to individuals physically present in the U.S. who are from countries designated by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as unsafe to accept their return. A list of the countries currently designated for TPS can be obtained from the Temporary Protected Status page of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Individuals who apply for and are granted TPS are authorized to remain and to work in the U.S. for a specific, limited period. When this period expires, the DHS secretary may extend it for another specified period. In recent years, the TPS determinations for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone were not extended, and then the Trump administration decided not to extend the TPS designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

Similar to the way court injunctions have allowed the processing of DACA renewal applications, court injunctions have stopped the termination of TPS for Haiti, El Salvador, Sudan, and Nicaragua. A pending court case is asking for the court to also stop the termination of TPS for Honduras and Nepal, but it’s not certain yet what will happen. For more information on these cases, visit the National TPS Alliance TPS lawsuit webpage.

Deferred enforced departure (DED) is a status very similar to TPS. DED is granted to noncitizens from certain countries by presidential proclamation or other executive action. In the past, DED status has been granted, for example, to nationals of the People’s Republic of China (1990), El Salvador (1994), Haiti (1997), and Liberia (1999). Like DACA and TPS, DED allows eligible individuals to remain lawfully in the U.S. for a limited, specified period, to receive employment authorization, and to be “lawfully present.” A lawsuit has been filed challenging the termination of DED for Liberians. For information on this case, see this news release from the UndocuBlack Network.

People with DACA, TPS, and DED find themselves in very similar circumstances. Despite their strong ties to the U.S. and coming forward periodically to apply for protection, the Trump administration has aggressively sought to end the relief they have been given, placing them at risk of deportation. Because of these similar harms faced by immigrant youth and people with TPS or DED, relief for all three groups is included in this one bill.

What is conditional permanent resident (CPR) status, and how is it different from lawful permanent resident (LPR) status?

Conditional permanent residents receive a “green card” valid for a specific period of time — according to the provisions of this bill, 10 years. To obtain LPR status, a CPR must file a petition to remove the conditional status when they meet the requirements listed in ADPA for being eligible. Conditional permanent residence is not new to immigration law. CPR status is granted to people who filed for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status early in a marriage or through entrepreneurship. ADPA confirms that conditional permanent residents have the same rights as lawful permanent residents.

NOTE: Under ADPA, a person could apply for relief and be granted LPR status, without first having to have CPR status, if they met the ADPA’s eligibility requirements for LPR status at the time they apply. However, if a person applies under ADPA and, at the time they apply, meets the CPR requirements but not the LPR requirements, they will be granted CPR status for a period of 10 years. That person can apply at any time within those 10 years to have the conditional status removed by showing that they meet the LPR requirements.

If I qualify under the American Dream and Promise Act, will I be allowed to work in the U.S.?

Yes. As a conditional permanent resident (CPR) or lawful permanent resident (LPR) you will be granted work authorization.

Will I be able to keep my current Social Security number?

Yes. If you currently have a Social Security number, you will be able to keep it for life, and you won’t be required to get a new number if your immigration status changes.

How much will it cost to apply?

ADPA allows DHS to charge a reasonable fee for all available applications without specifying an amount. For immigrant youth applying for CPR status, the fee may not exceed $495. When they later apply to for LPR status, the fee will be commensurate with the fee others must pay to apply for LPR status. Under ADPA, the filing fee for people with TPS or DED or those who are TPS-eligible who are applying to become LPRs may not exceed $1,140. Limited fee exemptions will be available for people who meet certain economic hardship criteria.

Will I be able to travel abroad while in CPR status?

Yes. This bill allows those with pending applications for CPR to apply for advance parole (permission to travel abroad). Advance parole is the same process that was available for DACA recipients and is still available for people with DED and TPS. The difference under ADPA is that you can submit an application for advance parole without having to wait for your CPR application to be approved; you can request both simultaneously. If you are interested in exercising this option, we highly recommend consulting with an immigration attorney first.

I have a loved one who has been deported. Can they apply for relief from abroad?

It depends. If your loved one was deported or voluntarily removed on or after January 20, 2017, had been granted DACA or was eligible for DACA, was continuously physically present in the U.S. for a period of at least four years, and the sole reason for their removal was their unlawful presence, then they can apply from abroad if otherwise eligible under ADPA.

Those who had TPS because they are from countries with TPS designations as of September 25, 2016 — or who otherwise would have been eligible for TPS — or had DED as of September 28, 2016, would also generally be eligible to apply to adjust status to LPR from abroad, if they were continuously physically present in the U.S. for at least three years before being removed or departing and if the reason for being removed or departing was because of the termination/expiration of TPS or DED.

Are there provisions in the bill intended to further increase immigration enforcement?

No, currently the bill does not contain provisions that would expand border militarization, detentions, or deportations. However, there’s always the possibility that some politicians will try to attach to this bill harmful interior and border enforcement provisions. See the section below on Ways to Get Involved for information on how to push back against this possibility.  

Will the information I provide be protected?

As currently written, ADPA provides that the information you submit during the application process will be protected and shared in limited circumstances. Among the bill’s provisions are ones intended to protect information provided in applications filed pursuant to the bill; they state that information provided on the applications may not be disclosed or used for the purpose of immigration enforcement. However, information may be shared with federal security and law enforcement agencies for assistance in the consideration of an application for conditional permanent resident status, to identify or prevent fraud, for national security purposes, or for the investigation or prosecution of any felony not related to immigration status.

These exceptions to the confidentiality protections raise some concerns. For example, the fraud exception should not be used to facilitate the Trump administration’s ongoing and problematic efforts to denaturalize more people at an unprecedented rate. Similarly, the national security and felony language could be more narrowly tailored to prevent against an overly broad application that does not limit the potential use of this exception.

What materials should I gather to prove I qualify for relief under the American Dream and Promise Act?

ADPA has not passed yet, so it is not a law, and no one can apply for an immigration relief under it. Don’t be fooled by a notario or anyone else into “applying” for a program that doesn’t yet exist!

However, it’s a good idea to start gathering documents now so that you can have them handy if there is some immigration program that you qualify for, whether through ADPA or through a means that may already exist, such as sponsorship by a family member or employer. The bill lists the documents that would be needed to prove eligibility for adjustment of status under ADPA. They include documents to prove identity (passport, birth certificate, etc.) and documents to prove presence in the U.S. (school records, tax receipts, employment records, etc.).

If you had any interaction with law enforcement, you may want to speak with an attorney after this bill becomes law to see if you are eligible to apply and, if it’s unclear whether you are eligible, to weigh the risks and benefits of submitting an application.


PATHWAY TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR IMMIGRANT YOUTH, INCLUDING DACA RECIPIENTS

To learn more about the specific pathways to U.S. citizenship for immigrant youth, see the summaries for ADPA’s Title I and Title III in Dream and Promise Act of 2019: Section-by-Section Summary (prepared by United We Dream, UndocuBlack Network, and NILC).

Is there a maximum age requirement, like in DACA?

No. ADPA does not impose an upper age limit for eligibility under the act.

Are there any protections for immigrant children?

Yes. ADPA would prevent and stay the removal of children not older than 18 years, allowing them to remain in the country while they become eligible for CPR or LPR status in the future.

I didn’t qualify for DACA because I initially came to the U.S. at age 17. Would I be eligible to apply for the Dream and Promise Act of 2019?

Yes. This bill has a more generous age requirement: individuals who entered the U.S. before their 18th birthday can qualify so long as they meet all the other requirements.

I didn’t receive a high school diploma. Can I still qualify for conditional permanent resident (CPR) status and eventually lawful permanent resident (LPR) status?

It depends. Under ADPA, to receive CPR status you must have earned a high school diploma or GED or state equivalent or “a recognized post-secondary credential.” If you have not, then you can enroll in a secondary school or an education program that helps you obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent, pass the general education development (GED) test or other state-authorized exam, or obtain a certificate or credential from an area career and technical education school providing education at the secondary level or another recognized postsecondary credential.

There is no mandatory educational requirement to go from CPR to LPR status. You can receive LPR status through work (if you’ve been employed for periods totaling at least 3 years and at least 75 percent of the time with valid work authorization) or the military (if you served in the uniformed services for at least 2 years or were honorably discharged).

There is also a hardship exception for people who cannot meet the education, military, or employment requirement. This option recognizes that not everyone is or wants to be on a college track and that people may have unique circumstances, such as being the caregiver of a minor child.

Do I have to wait until I have CPR status for 10 years before I can apply for LPR status?

No. You may apply for LPR status whenever you meet the requirements for becoming an LPR. In fact, you can submit an application for CPR status, and if at the time you apply you meet all the requirements for CPR and LPR status, you will be granted LPR status and not have to go through a period with CPR status.


PATHWAY TO U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR PEOPLE WITH TPS OR DED

To learn more about the specific pathways to U.S. citizenship for immigrant youth, see the summaries for ADPA’s Title I and Title III in Dream and Promise Act of 2019: Section-by-Section Summary (prepared by United We Dream, UndocuBlack Network, and NILC).

Nationals from which countries would be eligible for TPS-based lawful permanent residence under this bill?

Foreign nationals from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Guinea, Liberia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen would be eligible to apply for LPR status under Title II of this bill.

I currently have TPS. Let’s say my country’s designation doesn’t expire until after this bill is enacted into law. Would I be able to adjust status through other channels beyond what is provided for in this bill?

Yes. ADPA clarifies that people with TPS and DED would be considered as “inspected and admitted” into the U.S., which would therefore make them eligible to adjust to LPR status through other existing channels, such as through sponsorship by a family member or employer.


EDUCATION-RELATED

Will immigrant youth be better able to afford higher education if this bill becomes law?

Yes. ADPA confirms that people with CPR status may be eligible for federal student assistance, including direct loans, Perkins loans, work study, grants and programs designed to identify and encourage youth with financial or cultural needs, low-income families and others to pursue higher education. In addition, this bill would repeal section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), removing a barrier for states that wish to offer in-state tuition rates or higher educational benefits on the basis of residence, without regard to a student’s immigration status.


WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

What are the chances that this bill will pass and become law?

Securing the support from members of the House of Representatives and Senate needed to pass this bill will likely be an uphill battle. We can anticipate having to fight off efforts to amend the bill with border and interior enforcement provisions as it moves through Congress. Nevertheless, this bill is an opportunity to highlight the importance of providing long-overdue immigration relief for immigrant youth and people with TPS or DED as a crucial first step to resolving the untenable situation created by the Trump administration.

What can I do to provide support?

Regardless of whether ADPA becomes law, we must continue to fight alongside immigrant youth and people who have or had protection from DACA, DED, or TPS, as well as alongside other immigrant communities, for policies at every level that promote inclusivity and will benefit all of us in the long term. Here are some things you can do:

  • Share your story. Undocumented youth were at the forefront of pushing for the DACA program to be created. The National Immigration Law Center is collecting personal stories to deliver to federal legislators, urging them to stand up and fight for those who will be irreparably harmed by the termination of DACA. Contact us at [email protected] to find out more.
  • Visit https://dreamandpromise.com/ to learn about other actions you can take to support immigrant youth and people with TPS and DED.

How can I stay updated on the bill’s progress?

Follow NILC on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date regarding the latest developments on this bill.