Amodei votes to protect immigrant farmworkers, but not Dreamers

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Supporters of the DACA program rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2019. (States Newsroom file photo)
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Supporters of the DACA program rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2019. (States Newsroom file photo)

Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei was among 30 House Republicans voting with all the Democrats Thursday on a bill to give legal status to undocumented agricultural workers.

However, earlier in the day Amodei was not among the nine Republicans voting with Democrats to provide a pathway to citizenship to immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

In opposing the DACA measure Thursday, Amodei was echoing his vote against a similar bill for Dreamers in 2019.

The bills mark the first step toward what advocates for immigration reform hope will be a year or two of substantive action on the issue. Yet both bills and other immigration policy reforms supported by the White House and congressional Democrats will have trouble clearing the U.S. Senate, where filibuster rules mean most bills must gain the support of 60 senators to advance, rather than a simple majority.

All of Nevada’s Democrats in the House voted for both bills.

A statement issued by Rep. Dina Titus’s office after the vote said the Dreamer legislation “would protect approximately 40,300 immigrants from the threat of deportation. These eligible immigrants and their households contribute $234,500,000 in federal taxes and $102,700,000 in state and local taxes each year.”

Republicans objected to what some called “amnesty.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who was managing floor debate on the Dreamer bill, objected to a section that would create a grant program to fund nonprofit organizations who help immigrants through the application process.

“This bill gives amnesty to 3 million illegals and uses American tax dollars to help those same illegals apply for the amnesty,” Jordan said. “The disrespect that the Democrats have for the American taxpayer, it’s astounding to me.”

The Biden administration released statements earlier in the day supporting House passage of both bills, but also noting they want Congress to take up broader immigration reform, like the U.S. Citizenship Act. That bill, based on Biden’s policy outline, would pair these measures with broader efforts to give legal status to millions more immigrants, as well as some border security measures and aid to Latin American countries to address what the White House sees as root causes of northbound migration.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.), a New Jersey Democrat who is carrying that bill in the U.S. Senate, told reporters Thursday that he appreciates the House is moving the conversation along, but wants to include these pieces of legislation in a larger conversation about broad, bipartisan immigration reform.