Local and national immigrant rights groups made a promise to mark the 9th anniversary of the federal program benefiting thousands of immigrants who arrived in the country as children: Those young people who benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals won’t be celebrating the program’s 10th anniversary.

“I don’t want to be here celebrating 10 years. We are going to be here celebrating that we achieved something permanent,” said Adonias Arevalo, director of Poder Latinx, a group that advocates for immigration, climate, and economic reforms. 

Poder Latinx, the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, Corazon, Mi Familia Vota, AZ Jews for Justice, United Farm Workers and Poder in Action gathered to remember the nearly two decades that advocates have pushed for meaningful immigration reform and to mobilize support for two congressional proposals. 

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would reform the current agricultural guestworker program and create a path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers, and the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 would provide a route to naturalized citizenship for the more than 700,000 residents shielded from deportation by DACA. The bill also includes access to legally protected statuses for millions more immigrants, including those with Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, designations.

The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 could benefit up to 4.4 million people eligible for permanent status, according to an estimate from the Migration Policy Institute. 

Both proposals have passed the U.S. House of Representatives, where Democrats have a solid majority of seats. But their fate in the Senate is unclear; Democrats hold a nominal majority in the chamber, but must win 10 Republican votes to overcome the filibuster. Arevalo told those gathered at the state Capitol Tuesday to let Arizona Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema know that these bills are a priority. 

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