Freedom Caucus member becomes 200th sponsor of DREAM Act

Freedom Caucus member becomes 200th sponsor of DREAM Act
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A Texas member of the conservative Freedom Caucus on Tuesday became the 200th House member to endorse the DREAM Act, a bipartisan measure to protect from deportation people brought to the country illegally as children.

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Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonCalifornia state lawmaker accused of sexual harassment GOP lawmaker says he'll repay cost of harassment settlement Seven Texas lawmakers leaving Congress means a younger, more diverse delegation MORE (R-Texas) signed on to the bill, first proposed in the House by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), which Democrats are pushing as a replacement for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

"The president, rightfully so, reversed or rescinded President Obama's executive order, because he didn't think it was constitutional and I agree with that. But the underlying issue I think still deserves to be dealt with," Barton said.

Barton is also a co-sponsor of a similar Republican bill, the Recognizing America's Children (RAC) Act, which was proposed by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.).

Barton has a conservative record on border security, but he's also spoken in favor of granting legal status to otherwise law-abiding immigrants in the country illegally.

Barton said he signed on to the bills because President Trump urged Congress to act on the issue.

"The president asked Congress to act within six months so I felt it was appropriate to get on a bill or two, that's what I did," he said.

Both bills put into law benefits similar to DACA, which Trump rescinded earlier this month, setting off a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill to protect so-called Dreamers — DACA recipients and other young  immigrants who have grown up in the U.S.

Democrats on Monday introduced a discharge petition to move the DREAM Act forward — a legislative motion to collect a majority of House signatures and move the bill to a floor vote without the prior approval of House leadership.

Even Democrats recognized a successful discharge petition is a long shot, since it would require Republicans to go against their conference leaders.

"I'm not signing a discharge petition," Barton said. "I'm a member of the majority and when you're in the majority you don't sign discharge petitions."

Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), one of the RAC Act's earliest supporters and a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, also told The Hill he would not sign on to a discharge petition.