The lives of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and their families continue to hang in the balance, following another decision against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by an anti-immigrant court in Texas. Will Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) stand up to his extremist colleagues in order to do what is in the best immediate and long term interest of New Jersey and the nation and create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients? Or will he stay quiet and refuse to take the lead to work on a real solution for our neighbors, family and friends?
In the lastest in a long and ongoing battle in the courts, Judge Andrew Hanen rejected a 2022 rule from the Biden administration that intended to preserve and fortify the policy. Handpicked to hear the case by impeached Texas Attorney Ken Paxton and a slate of GOP states, Hanen previously blocked all first-time applications in a cruel ruling two years ago. While renewals can continue for now, the popular and successful program is hanging on by a thread.
But Rep. Smith has the power to permanently alleviate the ongoing suffering of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are American in every way but on a piece of paper. He was among the group of current House Republicans that voted for 2021’s American Dream and Promise Act, which would have created a pathway to legalization for DACA recipients. Dreamers “are our friends. They could be living right next door to us,” Rep. Smith previously said. “You can’t just uproot them and send them back.”
Rep. Smith could not only help champion the reintroduced American Dream and Promise Act through the House, but also urge his GOP colleagues in the Senate to finally act. While the House previously passed the bill in 2019, and again in 2021, it was blocked in the Senate due to the Jim Crow filibuster. That outdated rule requires ten Republicans to agree to debate a bill. We know that if this bill were allowed to go to the floor for a full vote, it could pass with a simple majority.
Republican inaction and litigation has created the mess that hundreds of thousands of immigrants are living in right now. Will Rep. Smith help champion a pathway to legalization for DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals, or cave to the nativists in his party that want to deport hundreds of thousands of young people from the only place many have ever known as home?