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BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON THE PASSAGE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM AND PROMISE ACT OF 2021 (H.R. 6) IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

March 18, 2021 

Contact: Daniel Ball, dball@bds.org  

 

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** 

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON THE PASSAGE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM AND PROMISE ACT OF 2021 (H.R. 6) IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

Criminal Bars Exclude Many Immigrants Who Have Had Contact with the Criminal Legal System 

(BROOKLYN, NEW YORK)Catherine Gonzalez, Senior Staff Attorney and Policy Counsel with Brooklyn Defender Services’ Immigration Practice released the following statement following the passage of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R. 6) in the House:

“The passage of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R. 6) by the House of Representatives today is a missed opportunity for the real change we need in this country’s immigration system. We appreciate that H.R. 6 brings overdue and much needed relief to many Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients. Still, we must highlight how its exclusions block many more from the pathway to citizenship. By excluding many immigrants who have had contact with the racist criminal legal system with criminalization bars, this legislation perpetuates the harms of past and current immigration policies.  

Brooklyn Defender Services, working at the intersections of the criminal and immigration legal systems, represents thousands of immigrant New Yorkers each year. Every day we witness the effects of the dangerous connection between these systems that target Black, Latinx, Asian, and other people of color. We are dismayed to see that not only does H.R. 6 retain the criminal bars from the existing Immigration and Nationality Act, but it also imposes new criminal bars to legalization and citizenship, largely excluding the communities who have been disproportionately and unjustly criminalized. These bars exacerbate the already discriminatory outcomes of the criminal legal system.  

We applaud Representatives Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Mondaire Jones (NY,) and Pramila Jayapal (WA) and the 44 other Representatives for their efforts to remove some of the racist criminalization bars included in H.R. 6, such as the removal of the secondary review process and elimination of other grounds of criminalization.  

We urge Congress to commit to immigration legislation that ends the devastating consequences of deportation and criminalization—reform that keeps families and communities together and no longer relies on a racist and anti-poor criminal legal system to decide who is worthy of legal immigration status. Congress must reject criminalization and support a path to legalization and citizenship without excluding those communities most harmed by discriminatory and racist policing.”

Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a non-profit public defense office in Brooklyn, New York. BDS provides multi-disciplinary and client-centered criminal defense, family defense, immigration and other civil legal services, and social work support to over 30,000 indigent Brooklyn residents every year. 

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