By Alex McVey, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Communication, UNC Chapel Hill, Twitter: @JAlexanderMcVey
The BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act, also known as S.128 and H.R. 496) is a piece of bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The bill extends the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama Administration policy which deferred deportation for certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and allowed them to obtain work authorizations, social security numbers, and driver’s licenses.
President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration have set new targets for deportations, leaving DACA immigrants in a legal limbo. Legal experts are worried that without explicit legal protections, DACA immigrants will be targeted for deportation.
The BRIDGE Act provides these explicit legal protections to DACA immigrants. It allows immigrants who meet DACA requirements to apply for and receive “provisional protected presence,” protecting them from deportation and granting a work authorization that would end three years after the bill becomes a law. Immigrants who have already received DACA protection would automatically qualify for protected presence until their DACA expires, at which point they could reapply for the BRIDGE protections.
The bill also bars the sharing of information on BRIDGE applications with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
According to a study by the Center for American Progress, DACA has allowed over 740,000 immigrants to find higher paying jobs, attend college, start businesses, and contribute productively to the American economy without fear of deportation.
Sen. Graham’s website notes that the BRIDGE Act has broad support from faith, business, higher education, civil rights, and immigrant leaders. The BRIDGE Act, unlike DACA, is a law and would thus legally prevent President Trump from deporting America’s DACA immigrants.
The BRIDGE Act is currently under consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Senator Thom Tillis is a member. Senator Thom Tillis recently penned an op-ed for the Charlotte Observer, promising voters that he would reach across the aisle to support bipartisan legislation. He wrote, “I resolve to work with my colleagues to succeed in producing the good rather than failing to produce the perfect. I’ll be reaching across the aisle to find opportunities to work with Democrats on the issues that desperately need to be addressed… [such as] reforming the nation’s broken immigration system.” The bipartisan BRIDGE Act gives Tillis the opportunity to put his vote where his mouth is and start working across the aisle to produce solutions that are good for immigrants and our economy.
We urge you to call your representatives, especially Senator Tillis, and encourage them to vote FOR the BRIDGE Act, using the following script:
"Hello, my name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [CITY, ZIP].
I’m calling to urge [Sen/Rep's Name] to support the BRIDGE Act (S.128 if Senate, H.R. 496 if House). The BRIDGE Act will protect undocumented students and veterans from deportation, and it will allow them to continue contributing to our American communities.
[For Tillis only] Senator Tillis has promised to work across the aisle to achieve bipartisan immigration reform. Passage of the BRIDGE Act is a way for him to keep this promise."