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Today on Capitol Hill, national organizations are delivering one million petition signatures to Congress demanding passage of a clean Dream Act. A legislative solution for Dreamers is overwhelmingly popular across ideologies and is increasingly urgent, with a pressing October 5th deadline facing a quarter of DACA beneficiaries.
However, instead of moving the Dream Act forward, House Republicans are scheduling floor time for a very different type of bill. The House Rules Committee is meeting on the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act later this afternoon, with a potential floor vote in the House later this week. The bill is the latest Republican effort to malign immigrants as “dangerous criminals” in order to justify more deportations and detentions and less due process and access to justice.
Specifically, the proposed House bill would create a new and overly broad definition of “criminal gang” membership, allowing the government to indiscriminately deport immigrants based on appearances; establish new powers of deportation and mandatory detention; bar access to humanitarian protection for victims of gangs; excuse racial profiling; and eviscerate due process protections.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
After the President’s cruel decision to end DACA last week, we were heartened to see so many Members of Congress, including some Republicans, commit to advancing a legislative fix. Of course, doing so would require President Trump and Republican leaders to stand up to the ‘Steve King Wing’ of the Republican conference. Instead, House Republican leaders are scheduling floor time on a bill that gives Steve King his wish—a hook to once again call immigrant youth criminals, gang-bangers, and drug dealers with ‘calves the size of cantaloupes.’
This is not constructive legislating, it’s destructive fear-mongering. It is an offensive and irresponsible use of valuable floor time. This is exactly the type of stunt Americans are so tired of: Congress using its power to make political statements and divide us, instead of advancing common sense solutions that enjoy bipartisan support and move the country forward.
You can’t say that you stand with Dreamers while pushing legislation to scapegoat and deport them. It really is that simple. The only immigration-related bill Congress should be teeing up is the bipartisan, bicameral Dream Act.