Earlier this month, 34 House Republicans issued a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) calling for passage of a “permanent legislative solution” for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients before the end of this year. Representative Joe Barton (TX-06) stood up and showed leadership by signing this letter. The American people overwhelmingly support the Dream Act, and Rep. Barton’s signature on this letter signaled that there is bipartisan support to pass it this year.
Said Mario Carrillo, Director of America’s Voice Texas:
This letter signaled that there is bipartisan support in Congress to pass Dream as part of the year-end spending bill. Now, the moment of truth for Representative Barton is at hand. Will he use his leverage to ensure that that Dream Act is part of the year-end government funding bill this week? Or will he sit back and watch as his Republican leadership buckles to the whims of their anti-immigrant wing, and keep Dreamers living in limbo for the foreseeable future? This is one of those moments where leaders have to decide if they want to use the power they were given by the People, or squander it. We’re calling on Rep. Barton to make the right choice for his constituents, American taxpayers, and the country. Keep America’s Dreamers where they belong: at home, in America.
For data on Texas’ Dreamers see this report from Center for American Progress.
Here are just a few reasons why Republicans who claim to support Dreamers should vote “no” on a government funding bill this week unless it includes a solution for Dreamers.
- A vote to fund the government WITHOUT resolving the status of Dreamers is a vote to deport them. DACA recipients have and will continue to lose status and protections, exposing them to deportation, and the spending bill funds ramped-up enforcement, which under Trump is being carried out with no regard to priorities. Dreamers are under threat and need Congress to act right now – as the examples of young people like Osman Enriquez and Brittany Aguilera demonstrate in dramatic fashion.
- Delay in congressional action means business as usual for Congress: i.e. do nothing and set up the partisan blame game. Senator McConnell, Speaker Ryan and other Republican leaders are doing everything they can to delay and derail Dreamer relief. They are pretending that they’ll fix the DACA crisis later, but their promises ring hollow. When they say the way forward is a “standalone bill” through “regular order” that will be tackled “next year,” anyone who knows how Congress works understands this is political speak for “never going to happen.” As Cristina Jiménez, executive director of United We Dream, said to HuffPost, “Delay means deportation.” But if enough of the signers on the House Republican letter follow the lead of their colleagues Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and say “no Dream, no vote” to Republican leadership, then a bipartisan deal that keeps Dreamers in America will be negotiated and enacted.
- Will Congress really choose not to act despite overwhelming public support for Dreamers? More than 80% of the public, including two-thirds of Republicans, back legal status for Dreamers and want them to stay here in America. And a solid majority of members of Congress in both chambers would vote for a Dreamer solution if given the chance. And yet, through political gamesmanship, ineptitude and moral cowardice, Congress is now lurching towards the end of 2017 without having resolved the urgent crisis of DACA recipients and other young immigrants. Imagine having a strong majority of votes in both congressional chambers and having the power to resolve this crisis … and choosing not to act. That’s the moment we’ve arrived at.
- Representative Barton and his colleagues can make history for Dreamers, the GOP, and America: It would only take 24 House Republicans to side with the 193 Democrats in the House to approve Dreamer legislation. This contingent of GOP votes is larger in number than the notorious House Freedom Caucus and is comprised of Republicans who face competitive 2018 re-elections. This same cohort of Democratic and Republican votes could easily pass a government funding bill with Dreamer legislation. Rep. Barton and the other Republicans who signed this letter have power to make history here, but only if they choose to use it.
The choice is crystal clear: Representative Barton and his colleagues should follow through on their word, ensure that Dreamer relief is included in the year-end spending bill, and help make history.
The alternative – supporting a bill that funds Dreamer deportations, and accords them no relief – should not be an option.