Two-thirds of Republicans support a jeopardized program that helps undocumented immigrants work and go to school in the U.S., but time is running out for Congress to extend the program.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, shields almost 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation and allows them to work. Recipients, called “Dreamers,” might not be able to do either if Congress doesn’t pass legislation by the time the program expires on expires March 5, 2018.
The Trump administration announced in September it would end the Obama-era program. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote that a policy signed without Congressional approval is unconstitutional.
Some 66 percent of Republican voters favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants if they learn English, pay fines or back taxes and have jobs that pay taxes, according to a Harvard-Harris survey from September. This compares to 77 percent of overall voters.
Robbie Rosamelia, president of American University College Republicans, also supports DACA.
“Most of those granted protection under DACA have known no other country other than the United States for either most of or their whole lives, and they are productive members of society,” he said. “More than just raw numbers, this is a human issue. DACA recipients serve in our armed forces and think of themselves as patriotic Americans; they have spouses, families, and jobs here. They give back to a country as wealthy as ours that has given them so much, and they deserve the dignity of a stable future.”
“They give back to a country as wealthy as ours that has given them so much, and they deserve the dignity of a stable future.”
About a dozen House Republicans – including Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., and Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, – are pressuring GOP leaders to save the program.
About 300 members of the 435-member House would back such a bill, according to some lawmakers.
Most Congressional Republicans are willing to support Dreamers staying in the U.S., but only if it is paired with other legislative measures, such as a border wall.
Here are some House Republicans who have spoken in support of continuing the program:
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO): Rep. Coffman helped introduce the Bridge Act last January. The bill is focused on protecting Dreamers from deportation, while calling on Congress to find a permanent solution for Dreamers.
“Rep. Coffman has also recognized on numerous occasion our broken immigration system, and has been one of the leading voices in calls for the need to update and reform our immigration system,” wrote a spokesman for Rep. Coffman in an email.
Jeff Flake (R-AZ):
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 7, 2017
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL):
— Andrea Cruz (@Andreacruztv) September 4, 2017
Lindsay Graham (R-SC): Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., have proposed the only bipartisan legislation to save the program, the Dream Act.
Congress is still considering legislation for Dreamers. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told The Hill he blamed “extremist positions” on both sides of the debate for inaction on immigration.
“Are you willing to get off of the enforcement first and are you willing to get off of the all or nothing?” he said. “Because both are signs of people who are not willing to stand with us here today and make a difference in these young people’s lives.”