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The Urgent Reasons that Rep. Issa Should Step Up and Support the Dream Act

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Sacramento, CA – President Trump’s decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, plunged 800,000 Dreamers into crisis, including more than 222,000 DACA recipients in California. 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. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) should recognize that his overly complicated proposal for Dreamers is a non-starter, revisit his declared opposition to the bipartisan Dream Act, and step up for Dreamers by supporting passage of the Dream Act on any legislative vehicle possible. 

The urgency for Rep. Issa and his colleagues to act on the Dream Act

Rep. Issa wrote in September that, “now is the time for Congress to step up and craft a meaningful solution” for DACA recipients. We agree.

However, he also declared his opposition to the Dream Act and support for an overly complicated proposal that would pair Dreamers’ status with legal visa reforms, seeking to allocate 15% of the overall number of visas issued for each of the next five years to DACA recipients. Rep. Issa calls his proposal “immigration neutral,” but in fact it would result in a reduction of immigrants to America – Dreamers are already here living as Americans and legalizing their status should not done in piecemeal fashion or be paired with attempts to reduce the numbers of visas allocated to the U.S.

What’s more, such a complicated proposal is unlikely to be considered or pass the U.S. Congress.  Instead of drafting new bills, Rep. Issa and other Republicans should demand that their leadership bring the bipartisan Dream Act – which has been around for sixteen years, is well-understood, and nearly passed Congress before – to a vote this year.

The situation is urgent for California, 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. Issa 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 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 $11.6 billion in lost annual GDP in California:

With President Trump’s decision to end DACA, it’s now up to Rep. Issa and his fellow Members of Congress to pass legislation for Dreamers to keep California Dreamers where they belong – at home in the United States.