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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.
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.
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.
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.