Ryan calls for ‘permanent legislative solution’ on DACA
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that Congress should work to establish a long-term policy for allowing young undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. after the Trump administration announced it is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration will end the Obama-era program with a six-month phaseout period to give Congress time to pass legislation.
“It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, 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,” Ryan said in a statement.
Ryan has expressed sympathy for the beneficiaries of DACA, who have been granted work permits and deferred deportation to work or pursue education after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
“At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know. Their status is one of many immigration issues, such as border security and interior enforcement, which Congress has failed to adequately address over the years,” Ryan said.
However, Ryan did not cite any specific bills or proposals as possible legislative outlines for lawmakers to follow.
Despite his own support for allowing young undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. in some form, it’s unclear what Ryan could advance through the House. Ryan pledged to conservatives before becoming Speaker in 2015 that he would not schedule a vote on any immigration-related bill unless it had the support of a majority of Republicans.
Another member of the House GOP leadership team, Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), also called for “commonsense policies for children of immigrants.”
“I’ve long said I didn’t agree with the way the previous administration went about enacting DACA, but we must protect children who are already here in this country and those who are currently protected under DACA. That principle is fundamental for me,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement.
Some centrist House Republicans, such as Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) have introduced legislation to give young undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.
And Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced a bipartisan bill in January with Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) that would extend DACA protections for three years to give Congress time to enact a long-term solution. Coffman announced last week that he would file a discharge petition to try to force a vote on his bill.
Discharge petitions, which are rarely successful, require at least 218 signatures to move forward.