Rep. Jeff Denham’s efforts on behalf of “Dreamers” can be seen in two ways. We’re opting for a little of both.
On Aug. 22, Denham was one of six Republican representatives – all from states with significant Latino populations and most considered vulnerable in 2018 – who signed a letter asking President Trump not to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program started under President Obama.
They pointed out that those protected under DACA were children when brought to America. They have lived here most of their lives; broken no laws; worked hard, and are contributing to our society in many ways. Deporting them serves no purpose.
It’s all true and we add our “hear, hear.”
This week, Denham sat for a staged one-on-one interview with one of those Dreamers in front of about 40 people and detailed his support for DACA.
For those who admire Denham, many see his letter and the interview as principled and courageous. After all, the attorneys general of 10 states are suing to kill DACA and candidate Trump frequently (and cruelly) promised to end it and send all the Dreamers packing. They’ve given him until Tuesday to take action.
Asking Trump to back down on his promise takes guts.
Others see Denham’s moves as grandstanding. Supporting something as popular as DACA is a no-brainer. Virtually every Democrat and many Republicans now back it. A study by the Center for American Progress says ending it could cost our nation $460 million in the first decade and billions more going forward. In a district whose population is 40 percent Latino and where an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Dreamers could be ripped away from their families, not supporting them is political malpractice.
We’re guessing the gathering support from Republicans signals the president and GOP have no stomach for killing this program. We should know soon.
Still, it’s terrific that Denham showed even the tiniest sliver of light between himself and Trump. It’s something we’ve been demanding of our congressman since Trump won the nomination.
But we’re not ready to start tossing confetti on his parade. Our applause would be louder if he also demanded the president disband his “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” – a thinly veiled attack on the rights of non-white voters. We’d be thrilled if Denham signaled his intent to pass a budget despite President Trump’s attempt to hold it hostage to building his wall.
We’d really appreciate it if Denham would work with Democrats to find real healthcare solutions instead of the draconian House Republican plan he voted for in June that would have curtailed or canceled the insurance of 100,000 of his constituents if John McCain and the Senate hadn’t stepped in.
If Denham wants to champion issues important to Latinos, he could refuse to allow Trump to pull $10 billion out of public education and send it to private schools. Such a move would be disastrous for the Title I schools that 60 percent of California’s 3.4 million Latino students attend. School districts concentrate federal funds on those “chronically underfunded” Title I schools, so cutting federal funds means those schools will take proportionally larger cuts, according to the nonpartisan Brookings Institution.
Standing up for Dreamers is laudable and important. We’re glad Denham has done it. But standing up for all of us against this deceitful, narcissistic president in the months to come will be even more important.