TULSA, Okla — The American Dream Act Promise Act is waiting for Senate approval after passing the House on March 18th.
The proposal passed by the House would allow more than 2.3 million Dreamers or unauthorized immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors. It would allow them to gain permanent legal status and eventually gain their U.S. citizenship.
If signed into law, the American Dream and Promise Act creates a path for immigrants brought to the U.S. before the age of 18. They would be eligible for a 10-year period of conditional residence, but they must meet certain requirements.
The language on the bill also states that applicants would also be eligible to apply for permanent residence if they earned a college degree or enrolled in a Bachelor's program for two years, served in the military, or worked in the U.S. for a three-year period.
“The citizenship process in America is very valuable, that’s why many people around the world come here looking for the freedoms, the ideas, and opportunities to do incredible things in this country, is because of our laws. When people do it the right way, is very precious, we celebrate it every month here in Tulsa and we think it should also be done with anybody and everybody that comes here,” Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern (R) told 2 Works for You.
Mimi Martinez is one of thousands of DACA recipients awaiting the Senate's decision. She was born in Honduras and her mother brought her to the U.S. when she was 10.
"My mom had applied for me to get a visa and it failed, so they put a ten year ban, where I couldn’t apply for another visa, she was already living here and she didn’t want me to just live a life where there was just very little opportunities -- education wasn’t really reinforced where I grew up so she just wanted to bring me here to give me a better opportunity,” Martinez said.
For the last sixteen years Martinez's has renewed her DACA status every two years. Her citizenship status is in limbo.
Martinez is grateful the bill passed the House and is hoping the Senate considers her future and the future of thousands of Dreamers liker her when they vote on the bill.
She said the Senate's approval of the bill would be a huge weight lifted off her shoulders.
“That would mean that I wouldn’t have to worry the next two years if I’m going to get my paperwork on time so I can keep my job,” Martinez said.
The bill passed the House on Thursday with a vote of 228 to 197. All five of Oklahoma's Representatives voted against it.
Representative Hern said he would have liked for the bill's language to be more bipartisan.
“There not kids anymore, they’re adults, many have served in the military -- have done really remarkable things become professors and our heart goes out to them, but we need to get a narrow bill, if she had sent this to the committee it would have been done the right way, but because she’s trying to push it through very quickly before April first, it’s just a very bad bill,” he said.
Cynthia Trejo was only three years old when she was brought to the U.S.. DACA created a pathway for her to drive, go to college, and work.
She said the Senate's approval of the American Dream and Promise Act would continue creating opportunities for her to pursuing her dreams.
“I want to pursue my masters so I could be like okay I’m going to be here a bit longer and I could pursue that you know, instead of hearing that I could be taken away at any time," Trejo said.
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