U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici prefers comprehensive legislation, but she and other Oregon Democrats voted to pass House bills to create a path to citizenship for young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and to
give more security to migrant farmworkers and their families.
Both bills head to the Senate, where their fate is uncertain in a chamber split evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Although Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaker, it takes 60 votes under current rules to break a potential filibuster.
"Humane reform of our immigration system is long overdue," Bonamici, a Democrat from Beaverton, said last week.
She has endorsed the comprehensive legislation that President Joe Biden has announced to give a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.
But Bonamici voted last week for immigration bills affecting two smaller groups.
HR 6, which passed 228-197, would help young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, but since 2012 have been shielded from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. President Donald Trump ordered an end to the program in 2017 but his action was blocked by the courts.
Nine Republicans joined 219 Democrats to vote for it; all votes against it were cast by Republicans.
Bonamici voted for a similar bill in 2019, also designated as HR 6, to aid these young people known as "Dreamers." It died in the Senate, which then had a Republican majority.
"Thousands of Dreamers in Oregon have been making our communities better for years, and many of them have been working on the front lines and making essential contributions throughout this pandemic," she said. "These resilient young people are beloved members of our community, and must be provided with a pathway to full citizenship."
The current HR 6 includes people under Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforcement Department, affecting an estimated 3.4 million people.
HR 1603 passed by a wider margin, 247-174, with 30 Republicans joining all but one Democrat for it. It provides migrant farmworkers with legal status, changes the H-2A program for temporary agricultural workers, and does other things.
"We must recognize the important contributions of the migrant workers who sustain our agricultural industry, and who worked through the pandemic, often in unsafe conditions, to provide food to families across the country," Bonamici said. "The Farm Workforce Modernization Act will give these essential workers the stability they need to provide for themselves and their families, strengthening our workforce and communities. I will continue pressing for comprehensive legislation that improves our immigration system."
Oregon's lone Republican in the congressional delegation, Rep. Cliff Bentz of Ontario, voted for HR 1603; he opposed HR 6.
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