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The Urgent Reasons that Sen. Portman and Reps. Tiberi, Joyce, and Stivers Should Step Up and Support the Dream Act

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Cleveland, OH – President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, plunged 800,000 Dreamers into crisis, including more than 5,000 DACA recipients in Ohio. 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 omnibus spending package in December to keep the government open.

As the Beacon Journal editorialized in September, “These young immigrants placed their trust in the government, providing data about themselves to participate in the program. Now that information makes them more vulnerable to deportation, as indicated in a memo from the Department of Homeland Security. All of that should be enough to spur Congress to act.”

And as the Toledo Blade editorialized in September, “Most politicians, and most Americans, agree that there should be a legal path forward for the Dreamers. Congress should make time to create that path.”

We agree. In particular, Sen. Portman (R-OH) and Reps. Tiberi (R-12), Joyce (R-14), and Stivers (R-15) in Ohio should move past vague supportive comments and step up for Dreamers by backing the Dream Act by any legislative vehicle possible.

The urgency for Sen. Portman and Reps. Tiberi, Joyce, and Stivers to sign the Dream Act

When the Trump Administration announced the end of DACA, Sen. Portman stated, “Those in the DACA program are here through no fault of their own, and for many this is the only country they know.  I agree that Congress should act rather than continue the Obama administration’s unconstitutional executive action.  I support bipartisan efforts to find a permanent solution that will allow those in the DACA program to stay here and continue to contribute to our society.  I believe we can and should respect the rule of law while also dealing with this issue in a humane and compassionate way, and that’s the approach I believe the administration and members of both parties in Congress should take as we look at legislative solutions on this issue.”

Rep. Joyce (R-14) said, “The president was correct to give Congress time to solve the issue. It is now up to Congress to come up with a bipartisan solution that should include stronger border security and reforms to the immigration system.”

Rep. Tiberi (R-12) said, “In order to ensure this country remains a beacon of hope we must adhere to the Constitution, which empowers Congress to write immigration laws, not the executive branch. Congress has six months to act. This is an opportunity for us to identify needed solutions that are fair and orderly for Dreamers who didn’t choose to break our laws and know no other home than America.”

Rep. Stivers (R-15) has urged Congress to “take action to create a permanent, legal and orderly immigration system — which includes addressing DACA recipients.”

We disagree with their analysis regarding the legality of DACA.  But now that the program is ended, it’s absolutely critical that Congress step up and fill the void with a path to citizenship for Ohio’s Dreamers.

And while we appreciate that Reps. Tiberi and Stivers have chosen to cosponsor RAC, a Republican-led version of Dreamer legislation, simply cosponsoring a bill is not enough to show leadership.  They need to consistently and publicly press their leaders to act.

The urgency is now, especially as we have passed the artificial October 5th deadline for DACA renewals.

This is a new and arbitrary deadline, established by the Trump Administration when they announced the end of DACA, which affects more than 150,000 current DACA recipients whose status was set to expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. As a result of the recent deadline, each of these DACA recipients had to scramble to adhere to the arbitrary new deadline to re-apply for DACA status. Tens of thousands of current DACA recipients are now likely unprotected as a result of the artificial deadline. This could send them back into the shadows and potentially expose them to deportation in a matter of weeks.

Instead of vague support and being part of a slow-walking process that kicks the can down the road, Sen. Portman and Reps. Tiberi, Joyce, and Stivers 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. None of these three members are a co-sponsor on this important legislation.

Congress should include the Dream Act on every upcoming legislative vehicle possible

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 every upcoming legislative vehicle possible. As needed, in December, Congress has to approve a spending bill to keep the federal government open. If recent history is any guide, many Republicans will refuse to vote for any such 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.

The American public, from Republicans to Latinos, overwhelmingly wants Congress to protect Dreamers

  • A recent FOX News poll found that 79% of Americans and 63% of Trump voters supported legislation providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers. The Fox poll is just the latest in a series of recent national polls to find overwhelming support for Congress protecting Dreamers (see here for an overview of the results of other recent national polling showing huge support among Americans, including Republicans, for Congress protecting Dreamers).
  • A recent Latino Decisions poll found that Latinos nationwide want Congress to pass the Dream Act with a path to citizenship by a 91-9% margin, including 83-17% among Latino Republicans.

Ending DACA without Congress providing permanent protection and opportunities for Dreamers would be an economic disaster for America – including a projected $250 million in lost annual GDP in Ohio:

With President Trump’s decision to end DACA, it’s now up to Sen. Portman and Reps. Tiberi, Joyce, and Stivers and their fellow Members of Congress to pass legislation for Dreamers to ensure these devastating economic and fiscal numbers do not come to pass.