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Democrats block effort to allow DHS to deport green card applicants with criminal records

Republicans have been critical of the Democrats moving the DREAM Act bill forward during a surge of illegal immigrants being stopped at the U.S-Mexico border.

Updated: March 19, 2021 - 2:01pm

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House Democrats on Friday blocked a proposed amendment to the Dream and Promise Act that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deport green card applicants with criminal records.

The Dream and Promise Act would "provide conditional permanent resident status for 10 years to a qualifying alien who entered the United States as a minor and (1) is deportable or inadmissible, (2) has deferred enforced departure (DED) status or temporary protected status (TPS), or (3) is the child of certain classes of nonimmigrants."

The bill also "imposes various qualifying requirements, such as the alien being continuously physically present in the United States since January 1, 2021, passing a background check, and being enrolled in or having completed certain educational programs."

Republicans have been critical of the Democrats deciding to move the bill to a vote during a surge of illegal immigrants being stopped at the U.S-Mexico border.

Minnesota Republican Rep. Pete Stauber proposed an amendment to the bill that would give DHS the authority to place an applicant with a criminal record in removal proceedings.

Stauber said his amendment would ensure that individuals "whose applications would be denied on the basis of criminal grounds, national security grounds, public safety risks, or as gang members, are considered by the Department of Homeland Security for removal from the United States."

Stauber explained that the bill, as written, prohibited DHS from using any information provided in a green card application "for the purpose of immigration enforcement – even if DHS denies the application or it’s withdrawn."

According to the text of the proposed amendment, "an alien whose application would be denied based on criminal, national security, gang, or public safety grounds, as set out in section 111(c) or 211(a)(3) of this Act, shall be referred by the Secretary of Homeland Security for a determination of whether the alien should be placed in removal proceedings under section 240 of the Immigration and Nationality Act."

Stauber said on the House floor: "This means that if an applicant has a murder conviction, a rape conviction, or if the applicant is a gang member, and DHS knows about it because of the application, DHS can’t refer that person for removal.

"If Democrats see fit to listen to the America people and exclude these criminals and gang members from receiving green cards under H.R.6, then they should vote for this Motion To Recommit to ensure those dangerous individuals are denied a safe haven here in our neighborhoods and communities where our children go to school and play."

According to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office, six Democrats in the previous session of Congress voted in support of the same "Motion to Recommit" to the same legislation – Reps. Angie Craig of Minnesota, Jared Golden of Maine, Vincente Gonzalez of Texas, Josh Harder of California, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan.

Every Democrat voted against the amendment, including those who voted in favor of the amendment before. The bill passed in the final vote 228-197 on Thursday.

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