Austin, TX – President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, plunged 800,000 Dreamers into crisis, including more than 100,000 DACA recipients in Texas. 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.
In particular, Reps. Farenthold (R-TX-27), Culberson (R-TX-07), and Sessions (R-TX-32)in Texas should move past vague supportive comments and step up for Dreamers by backing the Dream Act by any legislative vehicle necessary.
The urgency for Reps. Farenthold, Culberson, and Sessions to sign the Dream Act
In response to President Trump’s restrictionist immigration principles released last weekend, Rep. Farenthold (R-27)said, “I am glad to see President Trump’s plan for combating illegal immigration, which includes building a border wall, limiting funding to sanctuary cities, and increasing immigration enforcement,” in line with other statements he’s made in support of protections for Dreamers as part of a larger border security package.
Rep. Culberson (R-07) has advocated for “flexibility in that program for kids that have contributed in a great way to the country, to society, to the military.”
Rep. Sessions (R-32) has said a guest-worker program that would take Dreamers into account is “the least” Congress could do.
Well, the urgency is now for Reps. Farenthold, Culberson, and Sessions, especially as we have passed the artificialOctober 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 new artificial 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 likely to be left 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, Reps. Farenthold, Culberson, and Sessions 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
- The Latino Decisions poll also included a Texas-specific oversample of 464 Latino adults, finding that Texas Latinos/Hispanics support Congress passing the Dream Act by a 89-11% margin. The poll also found that Texas Latinosoppose a border wall with Mexico by a 75-25% margin.
Ending DACA without Congress providing permanent protection and opportunities for Dreamers would be an economic disaster for America – including a projected $6.3 billion in lost annual GDP in Texas:
- Recent analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that a decision to end DACA would cost the U.S. government more than $460 billion in lost GDP over the next decade, including more than $6.3 billion in lost annual GDP in Texas.
- The libertarian Cato Institute also projected major economic toll from ending DACA and deporting Dreamers, noting that “a repeal or roll-back of DACA would harm the economy and cost the U.S. government a significant amount of lost tax revenue. We estimate that the fiscal cost of immediately deporting the approximately 750,000 people currently in the DACA program would be over $60 billion to the federal government along with a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.”
- A new interactive map from Center for American Progress and USC Dornsife: Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration estimates the number of people who would have been eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, the number of DACA-recipients, and the human and economic consequences of ending the DACA program by congressional district.
- And a report from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) projected that ending DACA would cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs, while cutting $24.6 billion in Medicare and Social Security contributions over a decade.
With President Trump’s decision to end DACA, it’s now up to Reps. Farenthold, Culberson, and Sessions and their fellow Members of Congress to pass legislation for Dreamers to ensure these devastating economic and fiscal numbers do not come to pass.