The House on Thursday passed two bills that would grant protections to Dreamers and migrant farm workers while opening a pathway to citizenship, though neither bill is expected to advance in the Senate, the Associated Press reports.
The House voted 228-197 mostly down party lines to approve a bill providing legal status for about 2 million so-called Dreamers, who were illegally brought to the United States as children.
The bill also provides legal status for hundreds of thousands of migrants who fled war and natural disasters.
Republicans opposed the bill, demanding it include additional security measures at the US-Mexico border. Nine Republicans joined every Democrat in supporting the bill.
The bill would grant Dreamers legal status for 10 years and allow them to obtain green cards if they obtain a college degree, serve in the military, or are employed for at least three years. They would be able to apply for citizenship five years after receiving permanent legal status.
"They're so much of our country," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Dreamers. "These immigrant communities strengthen, enrich and ennoble our nation, and they must be allowed to stay."
Farm worker bill:
The House also voted 247-174 on a separate bill to provide legal protections to about 1 million farm workers in the country illegally, who make up roughly half of all agricultural workers in the country.
The bill would allow workers who have been employed illegally over the past two years to get certified agriculture worker status that would allow them to stay in the US for 5.5 year periods that can be renewed.
The workers would have to pay a $1,000 fine and work an additional eight years to get green cards.
The bill received slightly more Republican support than the Dreamer bill, though some conservatives lashed out.
"We don't know who these people are, we don't know what their intentions are," said Georgia Rep. Jody Hice. "It's frightening, it's irresponsible, it's endangering American lives."
The White House hailed both bills as "critical milestones toward much needed relief for the millions of individuals who call the United States home."
Bills DOA in Senate:
Neither bill faces much of a chance of passing in the Senate, where Democrats would need the support of at least 10 Republicans to defeat a filibuster.
President Joe Biden has separately vowed to introduce a bill that would grant a pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants living in the US illegally while boosting border security and funding efforts in Central America to stem the flow of migrants.
Republicans have criticized Biden for not being more forceful in response to a surge of migrants at the border.
"It is a Biden border crisis, and it is spinning out of control," said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.