Momentum Growing for “Dream Act Plus Smart Border” Package
After widespread condemnation of the White House immigration framework – a cynical attempt to enact longstanding nativist policy goals by exploiting the desperation of Dreamers – key voices are calling for a more narrow approach focused on pairing the Dream Act with smart border security measures.
Narrow gets it done. A radical and massive overhaul does not.
In particular, attention is turning to the bipartisan “Uniting and Securing America” Act, introduced by Representatives Will Hurd (R-TX) and Pete Aguilar (D-CA) and featuring 52 House co-sponsors, evenly divided between the parties. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,”Representatives Hurd and Aguilar made the case for their approach, noting that its narrow focus and bipartisan credentials could create a legislative breakthrough:
Rep. Hurd: “I still believe that a narrow bill is most important, the thing that we can get through our Congress, both houses, in the House and in the Senate. Because the more things you add, you start creating coalitions of opposition. And so let’s keep this narrow. Let’s get it done in the next couple of days and go on to the next issue.”
Rep. Aguilar: “Some of the changes that they are proposing are devastating to our immigration system, and I feel are better left for comprehensive immigration reform. So let’s keep it narrow, as Will mentioned. Let’s focus on DACA fix and border security and move on and get those issues off to the next day.”
Leading Republican Senators also are speaking out in favor for a narrowly-tailored, “Dreamer plus border” approach:
- Susan Collins (R-ME) on 1/29/18: “It seems to me that the two important things to tackle right now . . . are to protect the dreamers and also to strengthen border security.”
- John Thune (R-SD) on 1/23/18: “If it’s DACA for border security, that’s probably a deal that will get done. If we start adding other elements of the whole immigration debate into it? … Narrower gets it done.”
- Lamar Alexander (R-TN) on 1/26/18: “We don’t have to solve the entire problem of legal immigration … All we really have to do is focus on the young people who were brought here illegally through no fault of their own, and border security. Sometimes taking small steps in the right direction is a good way to get where you want to go.”
- Mike Lee (R-UT) on 1/24/18 : “The more that bill was laden down with more provisions, the less narrow it became, the more impossible it became to pass,” Mr. Lee said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” He said that the bill facing Congress now needs to include protections for Dreamers — children brought into the U.S. illegally — as well as border security measures to ensure President Trump will support it.”
- Mike Rounds (R-SD) on 1/25/18: “What we’re really trying to do is get results with regard to the issue in front of us, which are the children impacted by DACA and an opportunity to address the issue of border security.”
And in a good sign that that momentum is behind a narrow, “Dreamer plus border” approach, lagging indicator and human weathervane Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) also called for such an approach last Friday:
- Marco Rubio on 1/26/18: “Our primary goal should be to send to the President, before March 5th, a bill that secures our border and that addresses the plight of the current beneficiaries of DACA in a responsible way. The reaction, from both sides, to the President’s outline is a reminder that the more an immigration bill tries to do, the harder it is to pass. With only five weeks to go before DACA expires, if an agreement can’t be reached on a broader bill, Congress should at least address the most immediate problems. We cannot allow unrealistic and unreasonable expectations to lead us down a path of failure.”