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, local Members of Congress, such as Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA-25), Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-39), and Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA-45) 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. Knight, Royce, and Walters and colleagues to act on the Dream Act
Select local Members, who should play a pivotal role on resolving Dreamers’ status, have been vague or broadly supportive of Congress taking action for Dreamers:
Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA-25) has been intentionally vague, stating of Dreamers, “Their status deserves a thorough and thoughtful review. While the program may be ending, it should still receive attention by Congress. I encourage my colleagues to take the opportunity to now review this policy closely to see the impact this decision will have on the affected children.”
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA-39) said, “We should not deny residence to children who have only known America as their home, positively contributed to this great country and passed a background check.”
Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA-45) said, “Congress should work to ensure their residency so that they can continue to contribute to our community and strengthen our nation”
The situation is urgent for California, given the Trump Administration’s capricious and arbitrary October 5th deadline for DACA renewals. This new 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 to be 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 that kicks the can down the road, Reps. Knight, Royce, and Walters 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.
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:
- 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 $11.6 billion in lost annual GDP in California.
- 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 Reps. Knight, Royce, Walters and their fellow Members of Congress to pass legislation to keep California Dreamers where they belong – at home in the United States.