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Will the GOP Follow Stephen Miller and Block the Dream Act, or Rep. Mike Coffman and Force a Dream Act Vote?

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Washington, DC – The Republican Party faces a moment of truth regarding the future of young Americans called Dreamers. They either enact the Dream Act and share in the credit for doing so, or they kill the Dream Act and go down in history as the party that exposed young Americans to deportation to countries they barely remember.

The contrast was on sharp display yesterday. Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman signed onto the discharge petition for the Dream Act, making him the first House Republican to take a stand for immediate action. A discharge petition may well be the only way to force an up-or-down vote in the House of Representatives on the bipartisan Dream Act. Speaker Paul Ryan seems more interested in appeasing the Freedom Caucus than in reflecting the will of the House majority, and such weakness could lead to no floor action at all.

Meanwhile, White House aide Stephen Miller delivered to hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus a set of “policy principles” that Miller thinks should be added to any deal that protects Dreamers. The principles, leaked to the press, were accurately described by Glenn Thrush and Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times as a “wish list rather than a set of demands.” As an unnamed Democratic aide characterized to the Times, the proposal is a “complete nonstarter” and “not a serious document.” Even fellow White House officials and Republican officials were quick to distance themselves from the hardline vision. Anita Kumar of McClatchy wrote:

“The plan was designed by Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser who is responsible for some of his most contentious policies, including writing a ban on travel to the United States from some Muslim-majority countries, and does not reflect the views of Trump or many of his other top aides, according to a multiple people familiar with situation.

“The president himself said he doesn’t want to ‘throw out good, educated and accomplished young people’ and wants a Dream Act paired with increased border security, but Stephen Miller’s agenda to try to attach 50 percent cuts to legal immigration and other provisions completely undermines the president’s desire and chances for any deal,” said a political operative who works closely with congressional Republicans.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “It’s a moment of truth for Republicans. Will they kill off the Dream Act by going along with Stephen Miller and the outside nativist groups he’s working with? Or will they compel action on the Dream Act by following Rep. Mike Coffman’s lead and signing the discharge petition? The fact that Stephen Miller is working with the Freedom Caucus is all you need to know about their intentions: you don’t go to the Freedom Caucus if you want to actually pass legislation. If Republicans are serious, they’ll follow the lead of Rep. Mike Coffman and sign the Dream Act discharge petition. If not, their talk of wanting to protect Dreamers will be exposed as just that – talk.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice Education Fund on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

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