- Dozens of House Republicans are calling for a permanent legislative solution this month for the young immigrants temporarily shielded from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
- GOP Congressional leadership has said they see no urgency to act, since DACA doesn’t expire until March 5.
- Most Americans support DACA action.
Thirty-four House Republicans have signed a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to bring forward a permanent legislative solution for young undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which ends in three months.
“It is imperative that Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and not wait until next year,” the letter said. “In this moment, we must address the urgent matter before us in a balanced approach that does not harm valuable sectors of our economy nor the lives of these hard-working young people.”
The Trump administration announced in September that it would begin phasing out DACA, the Obama-era policy that offered temporary work authorization and protection from deportation to young immigrants who have lived in the US illegally since childhood. At the time of Trump’s announcement, DACA protected roughly 690,000 young immigrants, who are often called “Dreamers.”
Unless Congress enacts legislation, immigrants will begin losing their DACA protection en masse starting in March, and would have to leave the US.
Even months ahead of the program’s termination deadline, some DACA recipients have already lost their protections. Certain recipients who faced near-term expiry were permitted to renew their two-year DACA status one last time – but approximately 22,000 Dreamers failed to do so on time, and some have already lost their work authorization and protection.
“We are compelled to act immediately because many DACA recipients are about to lose or have already lost their permits in the wake of the program’s rescission,” the House Republicans said in their letter. “Not acting is creating understandable uncertainty and anxiety amongst immigrant communities.”
‘There is no crisis’
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Despite the growing unease among immigration advocates and some lawmakers, Republican leaders in Congress have been slow to act.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both said in recent days that they don’t consider it urgent legislation.
Ryan observed at a press conference last week that DACA’s termination will not occur until March, adding that other legislation, such as funding the government to ward off a shutdown, will come up sooner.
“There is no crisis,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC News on Sunday. “There’s no emergency. The president has given us to March to address it.”
Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of Americans support protecting the Dreamers.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll in September found that 86% of Americans support DACA, and 65% support both DACA and adding increased border security. A Politico/Morning Consult poll also conducted in September found that 54% of voters want Congress to establish a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
In September, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Dream Act, which would allow certain young immigrants who lived in the US illegally since childhood to earn permanent residence and eventually American citizenship.
Some Democrats have threatened a government shutdown if some version of the Dream Act is not included in December’s must-pass budget bills. But many Republicans have been reluctant to pass such legislation unless it also includes immigration-enforcement measures, such as increased border security and employer screenings.
The House Republicans who signed the letter acknowledged those asks, but said the urgency of DACA recipients’ circumstances warranted immediate action.
“We all agree that our border must be enforced, our national security defended, and our broken immigration system reformed,” the letter said.
“We must pass legislation that protects DACA recipients from deportation and gives them the opportunity to apply for a more secured status in our country as soon as possible. Reaching across the aisle to protect DACA recipients before the holidays is the right thing to do.”