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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 124,000 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 disaster relief bills and the omnibus spending package.
As the Express-News editorialized in September after President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program, the announced end of program is a “cruel twist” for Dreamers. As the paper’s editorial concluded, “Our hope is that Congress surprises us on this. It must — led by Texas’ delegation.”
We agree. And we hope Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23) is listening.
Rep. Hurd recently said, “There are 800,000 young men and women who have only known America, and they should have legal status to stay here. I think this is something we can get done.”
While Rep. Hurd is a member of the House Republican working group meeting about Dreamer-related legislation, no one should be confused about the intention of the committee. With members such as Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), who have been working their entire careers to kill common sense immigration reform measures, we view the working group as a transparent attempt to slow-walk and scuttle Dreamer legislation, not to improve it and pass it.
The situation is urgent for Texas, 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.
Instead of vague support and being part of a slow-walking process, Rep. Hurd should join the efforts to pass the bipartisan Dream Act. The Dream Act, 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. Rep. Hurd is not a co-sponsor on this important legislation.
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.
With President Trump’s decision to end DACA, it’s now up to Rep. Hurd and his fellow Members of Congress to pass legislation to keep Texas Dreamers where they belong – at home in the United States.