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GOP Voters Agree with Rest of US: Congress Should Legalize Dreamers

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Do Ryan and McConnell Represent Americans, or Steve King?

Washington, DC – Republican elected officials should embrace a clean legislative solution for Dreamers, rather than loading up a legislative package with “poison pill” provisions that are designed to scuttle the package and set up another Washington blame game.

“Americans are tired of the blame game in Congress. They’d like leaders in Washington to actually work together and pass a real solution,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.  “Republicans, including many of Trump’s staunchest supporters, want to legalize Dreamers rather than deport them.  That’s an opening Republican leaders should take advantage of to get it done, instead of ratcheting up the stakes and making a bill harder to pass.”

Americans in general view Dreamer legislation as a priority. As Morning Consult co-founder and chief research officer Kyle Droppnoted, “Not only do a majority, 73 percent, of voters want legislation protecting Dreamers from deportation, a majority want Congress to make that a priority … 65 percent of voters say protecting Dreamers should be either an important or top priority for Congress.”

With respect to Republican voters, the Trump base, self-identified conservatives, and Tea Party supporters, between 67%-74% of each of those subgroups back legislation that would allow Dreamers to stay and legalize in America, per the most recentPolitico/Morning Consult poll, conducted after President Trump announced the end of DACA.

Despite the consensus public sentiment, some Republican elected officials are busy trying to load up a Dream legislative package with provisions favored by the nativist right.  The goal here is clearly to scuttle legislation and set up a blame game, not improve chances for legislation to pass. For example, Senator Tom Cotton is trying to pair his RAISE Act push to slash legal immigration levels with legislation for Dreamers. And the new House Republican working group on Dreamer legislation, featuring immigration reform opponents such as Rep. Bob Goodlatte, is a“Committee to Nowhere” for Dreamers that is transparently designed to derail progress.

Los Angeles Times story from this weekend, “Dealing with Democrats? Protecting ‘Dreamers’? Here in Arizona that’s just fine with these Trump supporters,” adds additional context to the numbers. As the article notes, “In more than a dozen conversations with Trump voters in this sweltering Sonoran Desert oasis, not one found fault with Trump’s abandonment of his vow to deport the young immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers.” See below for key excerpts:

Donald Trump’s tough talk on illegal immigration was a big part of the reason Dave Hagstrom and many others in this booming Phoenix suburb supported him for president. “Walls make good neighbors,” Hagstrom said. So when the president moved this week to cut a deal — with Democrats no less — to block the expulsion of 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, was Hagstrom disappointed?

Not at all. “If you were to deport them, where would they go?” Hagstrom, 60, a car-warranty manager, asked on his way to a Bible-study dinner at an upscale shopping mall. “To send them across the border would be inhumane almost. There’s no life for them there.”

… In more than a dozen conversations with Trump voters in this sweltering Sonoran Desert oasis, not one found fault with Trump’s abandonment of his vow to deport the young immigrants, often referred to as Dreamers. In the bargain, he said, Democrats agreed to much tougher border enforcement, though not construction of a physical wall.

“I’m a believer in America First,” Joe Dahlstrom, 45, a Mesa golf course owner, said as misters sprayed him and his 4-year-old daughter, Gracyn, outside the Panera Bread where they stopped Thursday night for a family dinner. “But I also think that at this point we just have to take a hard look at who’s here,” Dahlstrom said. “And if they’re good people who are doing the right things and have assimilated, I think a plan needs to happen.”

… That suits people like Joseph Wise just fine. “I know a lot of these kids,” said Wise, 75, a retired electrical engineer from Gilbert, who paused to talk about Trump and immigration as he loaded groceries into the back of his sport utility vehicle. “They’re good kids. I’ve talked to some of them about how they crossed the border and barely survived.”

…To Steve Feld, it makes no sense to deport young immigrants smuggled into the U.S. by their parents. “You can’t send them back if they grew up here,” the 60-year-old locksmith said on his way to buy a birthday gift for his grandson at a Target in Mesa. “That’s not fair.”

…Sheryl Dressel, 61, a retired vision therapist from Chandler, resents hearing “Press 2 for Spanish” on automated phone greetings, and she opposes driver’s licenses for immigrants in the U.S. illegally. But she, too, has no problem with Trump agreeing to let the Dreamers stay in the United States, so long as they don’t commit crimes. “They don’t know Mexico,” she said as she headed into a Mesa grocery store. “They’re Americans.”

“Consensus exists in Congress and among the American people to pass the Dream Act.  The other issues that Republicans are trying to add are divisive and designed to derail the bill, not improve it,” Tramonte continued.  “The only thing standing between Dreamers and a path to citizenship, today, are Republican leaders’ insistence on placating their most extreme anti-immigrant Members.  Polling continues to show that these people speak for a minority of voters, and that most Republicans support passage of the Dream Act. Do Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell represent Americans or do they represent Steve King?  They’re going to have to make a choice.”

Similarly, in Stuart Anderson’s latest column for Forbes, he writes, “In the end, Donald Trump can save the lives in America of hundreds of thousands of young people or he can please those who, it appears, measure success by how many people are denied an opportunity to live the American Dream. He can’t do both.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice Education Fund on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

America’s Voice Education Fund – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform