U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern said immigrants with temporary protections were perhaps the most law-abiding people in the country, noting that they must routinely undergo background checks.
“I wonder how many people in the Trump administration cabinet could pass a background check,” McGovern said, prompting chuckles from Democrats beside him. “But these people do every 18 months.”
McGovern, D-Worcester, was referring to recipients of Temporary Protected Status, a humanitarian program for foreign nationals from certain embattled countries. Those recipients are registered with the federal government and have to renew their background checks every 18 months.
“These are people we should value in our community," he added Monday afternoon as he joined immigrants and politicians at Boston City Hall Plaza. "We should celebrate their presence here in our community.”
McGovern joined U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, Rep. Katherine Clark and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, all Democrats, to voice their support of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019.
The bill, introduced by House Democrats last week, offers legal permanent residency for TPS holders and those with Deferred Enforced Departure, as well as “conditional residency” to Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children.
More than 30,000 immigrants in Massachusetts stand to benefit from the bill if it passes Congress. The Bay State is home to at least 12,000 TPS recipients, mostly from El Salvador and Haiti. Massachusetts has more than 5,000 Dreamers under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that protects them from deportation, as well as an estimated 13,000 Dreamers who don’t have DACA.
McGovern’s comments come as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia and whether President Donald Trump obstructed the investigation. Prosecutors in New York say in a separate case that Trump directed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to make illegal hush-money payments to two women to prevent possible sex scandals from surfacing during his 2016 presidential campaign.
More than a year ago, Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over his communications with Russia officials.
Trump maintains his innocence and recently touted the results of a Suffolk/USA Today poll about the Mueller investigation, though some experts have taken issue with the wording of the question, according to CNBC.
Walsh said 20 percent of Boston residents were born outside of the U.S., touting the city as a safe, strong community. He called the latest iteration of the Dream Act a bill that offers “solutions, not scapegoats.”