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Reno, NV – President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, plunged 800,000 Dreamers into crisis, including more than 13,100 DACA recipients in Nevada. The solution is the bipartisan Dream Act. It’s urgent that Congress act, without undue delay and without unnecessary complications.
This includes recognizing that the recently issued White House immigration principles authored by hardliners such as Stephen Miller are designed to kill Dreamer legislation. Congress can’t let that happen. Instead, Congress should ensure that the Dream Act receives a vote and should explore attaching Dream to every moving legislative vehicle in the coming weeks and months, including the upcoming disaster relief bills and the omnibus spending package.
In particular, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV-02) should join the effort to pass the bipartisan Dream Act on any legislative vehicle possible.
When the Trump Administration announced the end of DACA, Sen. Heller stated, “The DACA program was born out of an executive order from President Obama and it’s another example of why it’s important that Congress debates and tackles any policy that significantly alters our nation’s laws…While I remain concerned about the way in which DACA came to life, I’ve made clear that I support the program because hard working individuals who came to this country through no fault of their own as children should not be immediately shown the door… This is why I am a cosponsor of the Bridge Act, which provides legal status for these individuals while Congress works toward a permanent solution through the proper Constitutional process.”
While the Bridge Act would provide temporary status adjustment, Dreamers don’t need another short-term fix that kicks the can down the road. They need and deserve the Dream Act, and Congress has a golden opportunity to pass this permanent legislation on a bipartisan basis.
After Trump ended DACA, Rep. Amodei said, “Since I’ve been here, I’ve called on congressional leadership to act on immigration reform. I would always rather be criticized for attempting to move this issue toward a solution, than criticized for repeated inaction. Now, Congress has six months to do the job it’s supposed to do according to the Constitution. If we’re unable to do that job, then 800,000 immigrants will be affected.”
If Senator Heller and Representative Amodei truly support Dreamers, as they claim, it’s time for them to co-sponsor the Dream Act. Dreamers are not bargaining chips.
The situation is urgent for Nevada, given the Trump Administration’s capricious and arbitrary October 5th deadline for DACA renewals. This recent deadline, established by the Trump Administration when they announced the end of DACA, affects more than 150,000 current DACA recipients in the United States whose status was set to expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. Tens of thousands of current DACA recipients are likely now left unprotected as a result of the artificial deadline, exposing them to deportation once again.
Given the urgency for Dreamers, Sen. Heller and Rep. Amodei should join the efforts to pass the bipartisan Dream Act. This bill, sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the Senate and Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in the House, would pass both chambers tomorrow if brought to a vote.
So what can and should Congress do to protect Dreamers?
For one, it can recognize that Dreamers’ status should not be viewed as a bargaining chip and should seek to attach a clean Dream bill onto any upcoming legislative vehicle possible. As needed, in December, Congress has to approve an FY 2018 spending bill. If recent history is any guide, many Republicans will refuse to vote for any such a spending measure, requiring a bipartisan vote to keep the government up and running. And most Democrats simply will not support a bill that funds the deportation of Dreamers losing their DACA status. Republicans in Congress need to make sure Dreamers’ status is resolved before that date, or help to ensure that the Dream Act is part of that December spending package, if they want Democrats in Congress to vote for it.
With President Trump’s decision to end DACA, it’s now up to Senator Heller, Representative Amodei, and their fellow Members of Congress to pass legislation for Dreamers to keep Nevada Dreamers where they belong–at home in the United States.