House OKs Dems’ immigration bills for Dreamers, farm workers Jody Hice Health and Human Services Department Washington Mexico Jared Golden

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The House has voted to unlatch a gateway to citizenship for young Dreamers migrant farm workers and immigrants who’ve fled war or natural disasters, giving Democrats wins in the year’s first votes on an issue that faces an uphill climb in the Senate

On a near party-line 228-197 vote Thursday, lawmakers approved one bill offering legal status to around 2 million Dreamers, brought to the U.S. illegally as children, and hundreds of thousands of migrants admitted for humanitarian reasons from a dozen troubled countries.

They then voted 247-174 for a second measure creating similar protections for 1 million farm workers who have worked in the U.S. illegally. The government estimates they comprise half the nation’s agricultural laborers.

In a statement after the votes, President Joe Biden called the action a “critical first step” toward a more sweeping overhaul he’s proposed. He said he wants to work with Congress toward “building a 21st century immigration system that is grounded in dignity, safety, and fairness, and finally enacts the long term solutions we need to create an orderly and humane immigration system.”

Both bills largely hit a wall of opposition from Republicans insistent that any immigration legislation bolster security at the Mexican border, which waves of migrants have tried breaching in recent weeks. The GOP has accused congressional Democrats of ignoring that problem and Biden of fueling it by erasing former President Donald Trump s restrictive policies, even though that surge began while Trump was still in office.

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