It’s up to Congress, and the time is now
The following is a statement from America’s Voice Education Fund’s Executive Director Frank Sharry on a Washington Post story with Sen. James Lankford’s (R-Okla.) comments that President Trump is open to extending a March 5 deadline for DACA beneficiaries if Congress fails to act by then.
Let’s be crystal clear; the fate of the Dreamers is in the hands of Congress. The President and his team have ended DACA once and for all, and have removed themselves from the center of action. If Dreamers are going to be protected, Congress will have to take the lead.
Trump ended DACA on September 5th, the same day that the Attorney General declared it unconstitutional. His Administration cut off new applications, and imposed an arbitrary cut-off date for renewals of October 5th. That’s it. DACA is over. Would the Attorney General issue a new executive action extending current DACA beneficiaries? No. The only thing standing between DACA beneficiaries and the prospect of losing jobs, university slots and protection against deportation is the end date on their work permit. And the only thing that can reverse this unthinkable outcome is Congressional action.
Yes, Trump negotiated an agreement in principle with “Chuck and Nancy.” But that was before the White House issued a long list of poison pills, authored by Stephen Miller and published in Trump’s name. In our view, the goal was not to stake out a negotiating position, but to derail legislation. The so-called “White House principles” were immediately denounced by Democrats and ignored by Republicans. The Trump White House is no longer the locus of action on a solution for Dreamers.
So, it’s up to Congress. Each and every Democrat is prepared to vote for the Dream Act. Many Republicans are prepared to vote for the Dream Act or something like it. If Republican leadership in the House and Senate allowed votes, legislation would pass. The problem is that Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Ryan know that this issue is divisive within their caucuses, and are reluctant to press forward. They talk of working groups, regular order and a March 5th deadline. But as much as they seem to want to get something done, they don’t have a plan of action. If they don’t come up with one and execute it, then most likely we’ll see the Republicans slow-walk this issue to death.
We need action. We need legislation to pass. We need Republicans and Democrats in Congress to come together, forge an agreement and, if need be, attach the Dream Act to a must-pass bill – this year. Trump has sidelined himself. Talk of “regular order” by Republicans is becoming an excuse for inaction. We need Republicans to join with Democrats to get it done, and soon. The stakes are incredibly high. The moment of truth is upon us. Failure is not an option.