US House of Representatives voted for two immigration bills led by the Democrats on Thursday.  

This marks the first time the US Congress voted on immigration policy since President Joe Biden assumed office.  

A pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 by a narrow vote of 228-197 in favour. Nine Republicans voted in favour of the bill. It was sponsored by Democratic Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard. 

Also Read: Southern border with Mexico is ‘secure,’ US security agency insists

According to the Migration Policy Institute, the bill will make 4.4 million individuals eligible for permanent residence. Deferred Enforced Departure beneficiaries, Temporary Protected Status recipients and young undocumented “Dreamers” would get a fair pathway to citizenship, reports CNN. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the voting, “This is a very special day for us. We are making a very big difference in how we respect the beautiful diversity of America, how we respect the fact that immigration is the constant reinvigoration of America.”

Also Read: Republicans criticise Joe Biden’s immigration policy as migrant tally in the US rises

The other bill voted on is the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. Bipartisan legislation by Democrat Zoe Lofgren and Republican Dan Newhouse was passed by a passed by 247 to 174 margin in the House. 

This bill will permit farmworkers and their families-children and spouses to get legal status through consistent employment in the agricultural sector. 

While both these bills have been passed in the House previously, it is likely to face obstacles of gaining enough Republican support in the Senate. There are 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate and at least 10 Republicans would be required to vote in favour of the bill for it to surpass blocking tactics, reports AFP. 

“It is precisely now, during a pandemic when we need to pass these bills. Dreamers are doctors, nurses, lab technicians, contact tracers, and job creators,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus chairman Raul Ruiz said.

 “Farmworkers are getting infected and dying from Covid at a much higher rate than the general public. They are literally dying to feed you,” he added. 

Republicans have warned that Biden’s border policies will only worsen the flow of illegal immigration.

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said at a news briefing, “It’s more than a crisis. This is a human heartbreak. The sad part about all this, it didn’t have to happen. This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration. There’s no other way to claim it than a Biden border crisis.”

House Republicans have been criticising the Biden administration on the increased influx of migrants crossing the border in recent weeks, with a large number of unaccompanied minors making their way into the United States.