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Washington, DC – News reports indicate that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will impanel a working group of House Republicans to work on Dreamer-related immigration legislation. No one should be confused about the intention of the committee – this is a transparent attempt to slow-walk and scuttle Dreamer legislation, not to improve it.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “This is a Committee to Nowhere. With members such as Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), who have been working their entire careers to kill common sense immigration reform measures, we are deeply concerned that this House task force will be more interested in placating the nativist right than in enacting a bill that enjoys strong bipartisan support. Let’s be clear: if poison pill provisions are added by right wing Republicans, it will scuttle the effort for Dreamers. And for at least some on the committee, that’s the whole point.
In 2014, Rep. Goodlatte said of Dreamers, “Whether they came in illegally or whether they entered the country legally and overstayed a visa or a visa waiver, they should be required to leave. That’s what the law says and that’s how the law should be enforced.”
Just this week, the New York Times reported this about Goodlatte’s approach:
…this week the House will take up the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, aimed at MS-13 and other immigrant gangs, and the Legal Workforce Act to expand electronic worker verification efforts. Mr. Goodlatte said he would follow those bills with legislation dealing with immigrant agricultural workers.
“We are happy to have discussions with anybody who wants to talk about what we need to do with DACA, but I would say DACA is at the end of that list, not at the beginning,” said Mr. Goodlatte in an interview. “We can’t fix the DACA problem without fixing all of the issues that led to the underlying problem of illegal immigration in the first place.”
Goodlatte is loved by NumbersUSA, a nativist group and member of the John Tanton network. Goodlatte has a career-long “A” grade from them, including an “A+” for the current Congressional term. In 2010 NumbersUSA bestowed a “Blue Ribbon” on Goodlatte for his hard line stance.
What gives us optimism, however, is that Goodlatte and his anti-immigrant friends do not represent the views of most Americans, or even most Republicans. With respect to Republican voters, the Trump base, self-identified conservatives, or Tea Party supporters, between 67%-74% of each of those subgroups back legislation that would allow Dreamers to stay and legalize in America, per the most recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.
Today, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board weighed in on the prospect of a Dreamer agreement, noting, “…we hope Mr. Trump cuts that deal with the Democrats with few security strings attached. The benefits would be many … So go ahead and cut that deal, Mr. President, and include a path to citizenship.”
Said Sharry, “Let’s be clear. Attempts to load up the Dream Act with issues such as the border wall, interior enforcement and cuts to legal immigration should be seen for what they are: poison pills aimed at sinking legislation and exposing Dreamers to deportation. Republicans in Congress either help Dreamers to formally become the Americans they already are, or they find ways to destroy their dreams by adding poison pills that will kill prospects for the bipartisan Dream Act. The moment of truth is drawing near, and the outcome will be clear to all, and to history: this Republican Congress either puts Dreamers on a path to citizenship or it puts Dreamers on a path to deportation.”