President Donald Trump believes any solution to the crisis he created involving nearly 800,000 Dreamers is “dead.” So it’s up to Congress to forge a solution.
That’s why we’re encouraged that a California Democrat and a Texas Republican unveiled the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act during a Tuesday press conference.
Pete Aguilar, D-Fontana, and Will Hurd, R-Texas were joined by nine others – including Turlock’s Jeff Denham – to talk about a bipartisan plan to protect from deportation those young people who arrived in America as children and who often grew up believing they are Americans.
To help bring them out of the shadows, the Obama administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. It allowed them to continue their education, get jobs, pay taxes and serve in the military. Trump killed DACA by decree in September, giving Congress until March to fix it. But some are already losing their protected status.
Several thousand Dreamers are among Aguilar’s constituents; Hurd’s Texas district has 800 miles of border with Mexico. This is important to both, but it must become important to at least 218 members to pass. With 50 co-sponsors, they’re off to a good start.
“Most folks said Republicans and Democrats could not come together and get anything done,” said Hurd. “This proves them wrong.”
Fortunately, their bill appears to have a better chance than the punitive alternative sponsored by Virginia hardliner Bob Goodlatte and Arizona’s Martha McSally. That would spend $30 billion on Trump’s wall, provides no path to citizenship and punish “dangerous sanctuary cities.”
Ideally, all 53 members of California’s congressional delegation – 39 Democrats, 14 Republicans – would follow Denham’s lead and work to pass the USA Act. Such unity would send a powerful message to Trump and GOP hardliners.
Sadly, that’s too much to ask for people like Dana Rohrabacher, who has vowed not to support any sort of path to citizenship and goes out of his way to be cruel, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. Doing his best to curry favor with President Trump, the Washington Post reported McCarthy was unexpectedly at the White House meeting in which Trump went over the edge and unleashed his foul-mouthed rant.
Later, Trump tweeted a DACA compromise was dead mainly because Sen. Dick Durbin had the guts to call him out on his racist comments.
McCarthy should recognize that his is not a constituency of one. He can help help spare 200,000 California Dreamers deportation.
We’ve pushed hard for Denham to sign the “discharge petition” that could force an up-or-down vote on the House floor. The real value in signing it is symbolic, letting everyone see that saving the Dreamers is a priority.
The USA Act offers a similar opportunity. It would require individuals to have passed background checks and either have gone to college, worked or served in the military. It would also improve border security by creating a “smart wall,” built of technology, levees and increased drug and immigration agents.
So we’re glad Denham stood with Aguilar and Hurd and that he is pushing others to join.
“Over the weekend we made a number of phone calls,” Denham said, explaining the bill’s “very narrow focus.”
They’re not trying to solve the entire immigration issue, just the part that allows 800,000 young people to remain the good Americans they’ve always been.