The House of Representatives approved a bill that would grant thousands of young, illegal immigrants the chance to become American citizens Wednesday night.
Called the DREAM Act, the proposal would permit young people brought illegally into the U.S. by their parents the opportunity for citizenship. However, that’s contingent on them completing two years of college or military service.
The vote was 216 to 198.
The White House lobbied hard for the bill’s passage, lauding it as a step towards a comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration laws.
Supporters say the measure would strengthen the U.S. economy and boost military readiness.
Critics contend that the legislation offers what they call “amnesty” for illegal immigrants.
The Senate plans a vote Thursday to try to summon the DREAM Act to the Senate floor. It is expected to fail.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), one of the main backers of the DREAM Act, believes this is the last chance he has to pull this legislation across the finish line.
“Once the Congress of the United States changes hands and the House of Representatives is in the hands of the Republican Party, I don’t see any movement on comprehensive immigration reform,” Gutierrez said.