Rep. Jeff Denham was on MSNBC Wednesday explaining his support for the Dreamers – those young people brought to the United States as children but who never became citizens.
President Donald Trump turned their world upside down last September by reversing the executive order issued by former President Barack Obama that allowed them to stay in America under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
These are the “good kids” that nearly everyone wants to keep in America – students enrolled in school, working at jobs, owning businesses, serving in the military. The same young people about to be torn from their families and sent to a country they never knew or long ago forgot.
Tuesday, Trump met with Republicans and Democrats in a photo-op effort to make a deal. But first Trump wants Democrats to agree to a few items on his wish list – like an $18 billion wall. Without it, “it doesn’t work.”
So the Dreamers have become 800,000 bargaining chips; leverage in an effort to keep an absurd campaign promise.
For any representative who actually cares about the Dreamers, it is easy enough to help stop this spectacle. They can insist that a “clean bill” – with no strings attached – be sent to the House floor for a vote.
If he cares more about the Dreamers than about politics, Denham could sign the petition. Two other Republicans – Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mark Amodei of Nevada – have signed it, along with all House Democrats.
Perhaps if House leadership – and President Trump – knew they were only a few more compassionate votes from losing their bargaining chips, this impasse would end. And President Trump could get his “bill of love” to free the Dreamers from his threat.
Denham, who has acreage in Merced County and represents Stanislaus and southern San Joaquin counties, votes according to Trump’s wishes 98.3 percent of the time. Simply put, Denham won’t cross his boss. Trump wants to be seen as a wheeler-dealer – which is why he became infuriated when a judge temporarily blocked his order to dissolve the Dream Act on Tuesday.
Denham would need to demonstrate only a tiny modicum of independence to do the right thing.
“These kids know of no other home, they have no other country to go back to,” Denham told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi. “It’s something we’ve got to resolve – not through executive order, not through the courts but legislatively, Congress has got to do its job.”
We don’t doubt Denham’s heart is in the right place. We don’t doubt that he truly wants to allow these young people to remain good Americans. We don’t doubt he recognizes the torment about to be inflicted on families by deportation.
After all, he signed a letter – along with 35 other Republicans – demanding his party take action. And he says all the right things.
“We’ve never penalized kids for the deeds of their parents,” he said. “So this is something that it’s just the right thing to do.”
If fixing this problem is the right thing to do, Congressman, why not just do it? Sign the discharge petition.