I don’t think Democrats have a partner to negotiate with in the White House on sensible immigration policy or sparing 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients from deportation. Any decision the President makes one day is likely to be completely reversed another, depending on which extremist advisor he is listening to that day. The one thing Trump has demonstrated consistently is how comfortable he is denigrating immigrants and Latinos, questioning the legitimacy of our very citizenship in the U.S., and standing up for and defending white supremacist policies – and returning to the anti-immigrant well over and over. Democrats and the rest of the country would be crazy to take seriously this set of principles or the President who is proposing them.
The goal of the President’s approach to immigration seems to be to criminalize and deport as many immigrants and Latinos as he can by outlawing whole categories of legal immigration, pushing young people with DACA back into the black market, and making it easier to label law-abiding immigrants as criminals so that he can deport them. The 800,000 DACA recipients who could lose protection from deportation have come forward and gone through multiple background checks, arrived here as children, and have lived here for a minimum of ten years. We should be incorporating and integrating them further, not threatening them or their families with deportation to play to the anti-immigration wing of the President’s political base.
There is bipartisan support in Congress to get this done, and the votes are there. Those serious about solutions need to keep going and deliver what vast majority of Americans support. Now after a few weeks of delay, we know once again that it is up to Republican congressional leaders to decide if they are serious about moving forward and if they will let the majority in the House of Representatives who support the DREAM Act to have a vote and protect DREAMers before the deportations ramp up further.
By Luis V. Gutiérrez
Rep. Gutiérrez is in his 13th term representing the Fourth District of Illinois. He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and is the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He is a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act (HR. 3440), which has 200 co-sponsors. He introduced the American Hope Act (HR 3591) in July 2016 to provide legal status for immigrant youth, a bill that now has 133 co-sponsors in the House. He is the lead Democratic sponsor of the bipartisan BRIDGE Act (HR 496, Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy), introduced with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) in January 2017, which now has 31 co-sponsors and is the subject of a discharge petition (Discharge Petition No. 115-4: text with signatures). It would extend the protections of DACA for three years to give Congress an opportunity to enact permanent legislation.