We are running out of time to protect Dreamers

We are running out of time to protect Dreamers
© Getty Images

Time is running out for Congress to pass critical legislation including federal funding and legislation providing a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Making things more difficult, the odds of a government shutdown have grown dramatically as President Trump tweeted that he saw no path to a year-end deal with Democrats. The resulting twitter battle, after Democrats skipped a meeting with Trump, has deepened tension with the president.

ADVERTISEMENT
Over the past few months, Congress has been capitulating to Trump’s direction on policymaking, while he passes more executive orders than Obama, Bush Jr. or Clinton. 

 

Last time I checked, the U.S. Constitution envisioned a legislative branch — not a social media account — as the primary lawmaking body that would address critical issues facing our nation.  

On immigration, multiple bills have been introduced providing varying degrees of relief to Dreamers, either with a path to citizenship or codified relief against deportation. 

In the House, Republicans have introduced the BRIDGE Act and Recognizing American’s Children Act while House Democrats have championed Rep. Luis GutierrezLuis Vicente GutierrezIllinois officer resigns after not helping woman harassed for wearing Puerto Rico shirt Dem tears into Kelly over immigrant comments: 'He eats the vegetables that they pick' WATCH: Gutiérrez says ‘lonely’ Trump can cry on KKK’s shoulder over WH departures MORE’s (D-Ill.) HOPE Act. 

Looking to the more deliberative body, the Senate is seeing action from unlikely players taking lead on immigration. Conservative Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKey GOP senator says ‘no question’ Russia is meddling in U.S. affairs GOP Senator: 'Very inappropriate' for Trump to discuss allowing Russia to question US citizens Anti-Trump protesters hold candlelight vigil by White House MORE (R-N.C.) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP seeks separation from Trump on Russia Hillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Election security bill picks up new support in Senate MORE (R-Okla.) have introduced the SUCCEED Act. 

Immigration reform veterans, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Questions linger over Trump-Putin summit Soccer ball Putin gifted to Trump gets routine security screening Graham: Biggest problem is Trump ‘believes meddling equals collusion’ MORE (R-S.C.) and Richard DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinChicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate MORE (D-Ill.) have reintroduced the decade-old DREAM Act. 

The support for immigration goes beyond these bills, however, as several Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in their refusal to support government funding at the end of the year without a resolution for Dreamers.  

With a brighter glow of bipartisanship, Democrats have even agreed to attach border security provisions from Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and Congress at odds over Russia Senate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Senators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits MORE’s (R-Texas) bill in exchange for protecting Dreamers.

Unlike Trump’s unworkable border wall, there is bipartisan consensus to fund surveillance technology to monitor remote areas of the border, hire more immigration judges to address the backlog of cases, and improve the flow of commerce through entry ports so trade can continue to flourish.

Further, security means policy that is actually warranted by our national security not by the whims of White House bureaucrats. Early in the year, Trump issued an executive order mandating a hiring surge for “border security and immigration enforcement improvements.” 

report by the Office of the Inspector General stated that that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) couldn’t provide data to justify a current hiring surge. 

“Neither CBP nor ICE could provide complete data to support the operational need or deployment strategies for the additional 15,000 additional agents and officers they were directed to hire,” the report states.

With this bipartisan momentum and legislative progress, it begs the question of why Congress is continuing to allow an unstable executive who tweets war threatsfalsehoods and racial insults as easily as cat memes to lead on any agenda.  

After President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that provided temporary protection for Dreamers, House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress Interior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia MORE (R-Wis.) stated that “with the president's leadership, [Congress] will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”

Nearly a year into Trump’s presidency office, Congress’s scoreboard on legislation is zero. It’s no surprise that the American people think their government is completely inept. 

In Gallup’s most recent survey, a whopping 81 percent of Americans disapproved of Congress. Congressional Republicans are viewed negatively by 78 percent.

If the president cannot do his job with honesty, wisdom or even the slightest hint of integrity, Congress must step up to legislate — just like the good old days. 

Let’s start with a solution for the Dreamers, something that has bipartisan approval and has at least partially passed before. 

Cesar Vargas Esq. is a co-director of the Dream Action Coalition and national advocate for immigration reform.