America is far from perfect, and anyone who has told you otherwise deserves to be sent to their room to think about what they’ve done. For a nation that prides itself as being the ‘land of opportunity’ or one with ‘liberty and justice for all,’ they should’ve specified that these opportunities and freedoms are only available to a select group of citizens. You could say that America is led by a racist demagogue with no concept of what it means to be a politician, or you could say that Americans are so disillusioned by their capitalist pangs of hunger that they’ve forgotten how to help one another, and you would be right about both, mainly because you’re entitled to your own opinion.
However, there is no shortfall of American society more harmful than our immigration system. The land of opportunity, a majority of the time, seems more exclusive and difficult to enter than a Vegas night club on a Friday night, even though both tend to be full of ignorant caucasian males.
According to U.S. government’s official citizenship website, to become a citizen through naturalization, one must have established permanent residence for at least five years (three years if you’re the spouse of a U.S. citizen), be eighteen years of age, possess the ability to read, write, and speak English, and pass the U.S. Naturalization Test. Seems simple enough, right? If it doesn’t, it is because we’ve made it this challenging intentionally.
According to recent statistics, a little more than 33% of Americans could pass a basic multiple choice version of the U.S. citizenship test, meaning that there are current citizens that, based on the requirements for citizenship, should not be allowed to live here. More than 60% of those surveyed were unable to explain which countries the U.S. fought against in World War II.
“With voters heading to the polls this year, an informed and engaged citizenry is essential. Unfortunately, this study found the average American to be woefully uninformed regarding America’s history and incapable of passing the U.S. Citizenship Test.”
–Arthur Levine, President, Woodrow Wilson Foundation
It would seem that if our own citizens cannot pass the test required to legally live in the U.S., wouldn’t it make sense to create an easier path to becoming a citizen? Answering this metaphorical question are the House Democrats, who announced on Tuesday plans to introduce a new bill to allow as many as 2.5 million people to apply for legal status.
The bill, HR 6 — known as the Dream and Promise Act — is an upgraded version of the legendary DREAM Act, a legalization bill for illegal immigrants who’ve traveled to the U.S. as children, with added language to allow immigrants living with temporary humanitarian protections to apply for permanent status, according to Vox. During his time in office, President Donald Trump has made it clear to immigrants, far and wide, that he does not like them. He’s attempted to shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which allows children of immigrants to live in the U.S.
Though no official analyses have been conduced on Bill HR 6, several analysts believe that, although it will likely pass the House with flying colors, it will not survive the Republican Senate — or be approved by President Trump — in its current iteration. The bill, if passed, would allow both DREAMers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) individuals to apply for legal status with an easier path to citizenship down the line. According to Vox, approximately 675,000 DREAMers are currently protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
In terms of full-fledged immigration reform, HR 6 is largely unfinished, and the Democratic leadership is well aware of this fact. With the upcoming 2020 election, the House is doing everything in its power to pass legislation in hopes of receiving support from a potential Democratic president. The bill is far from perfect, but like America, change takes time.