Richmond, VA – President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, plunged 800,000 Dreamers into crisis, including more than 12,000 DACA recipients in Virginia. 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 disaster relief bills and the omnibus spending package.
In particular, Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) should join the effort to pass the bipartisan Dream Act on any legislative vehicle possible.
The urgency for Rep. Comstock and her colleagues to act on the Dream Act
When the Trump Administration announced the end of DACA, Rep. Comstock stated, “The House and Senate along with the administration must now come together and find common ground that leads to bipartisan solutions that not only address the DACA issue, but also our critical border security and enforcement issues.” But the urgency of resolving Dreamers’ status has nothing to do with border security and enforcement issues. Dreamers are not bargaining chips.
Instead of providing clear answers about her legislative views and plans for Dreamers, Rep. Comstock actually ducked into a Members-only elevator to try and avoid answering in specifics during a recent Capitol Hill lobby day by Dreamers and their allies.
The situation is urgent for Virginia, given the Trump Administration’s capricious and arbitrary October 5th deadline for DACA renewals. This recent deadline, established by the Trump Administration when they announced the end of DACA, affects more than 150,000 current DACA recipients in the United States whose status was set to expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. Tens of thousands of current DACA recipients are likely now left unprotected as a result of the artificial deadline, exposing them to deportation once again.
Given the urgency for Dreamers, Rep. Comstock 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.
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 any upcoming legislative vehicle possible. As needed, in December, Congress has to approve an FY 2018 spending bill. If recent history is any guide, many Republicans will refuse to vote for any such a 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 $711 million in lost annual GDP in Virginia:
- 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 $711 million in lost annual GDP in Virginia.
- 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.”
- 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 Rep. Comstock and her fellow Members of Congress to pass legislation for Dreamers to keep Virginia Dreamers where they belong–at home in the United States.