GOP lawmaker calls for vote on DREAM Act
© Greg Nash

A centrist House Republican on Thursday called for a vote on legislation known as the DREAM Act to grant work permits and a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) noted in a House floor speech that only 21 more legislative days remain before Congress is scheduled to adjourn for the year.

“Let’s do what’s right for these young immigrants because they are already Americans in their hearts and minds. Let’s bring the DREAM Act for a vote so that these young professionals can make their American dream a reality. The clock is ticking,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

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The Trump administration announced in September that it would phase out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which authorized work permits for certain young undocumented immigrants. Congress has until March to make a legislative fix for DACA recipients, who would otherwise face deportation.

Ros-Lehtinen’s call for a vote on the DREAM Act came on the same day that President Trump and GOP senators agreed during a meeting at the White House that they would not include a fix for DACA recipients in a year-end spending bill to keep the government open.

That would be problematic for expected bipartisan negotiations with Democrats, who will likely be needed to make up for GOP defections on a spending package.

Ros-Lehtinen is the co-sponsor of the House version of the DREAM Act, which she introduced with Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) in July.

Their legislation currently has 199 other co-sponsors, most of which are Democrats. Apart from Ros-Lehtinen, four other Republicans have signed on to the bill: Reps. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (Colo.), Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamChina's TikTok turns to former lawmakers to help with content moderation policies Hillicon Valley: Warren turns up heat in battle with Facebook | Instagram unveils new data privacy feature | Advocacy group seeks funding to write about Big Tech TikTok adds former lawmakers to help develop content moderation policies MORE (Calif.), David Valadao (Calif.) and Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonGOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Privacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress Texas New Members 2019 MORE (Texas).

Another centrist Florida Republican, Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloProgressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP Anxious GOP treads carefully with Trump defense MORE, has introduced a more conservative version of the DREAM Act that provides a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

Curbelo’s bill has 34 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republicans with the exception of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who is running for the Senate.

Under the DREAM Act, qualifying young immigrants would need to enter the U.S. before the age of 18 and live in the country at least four years before the bill’s enactment. Curbelo’s proposal, meanwhile, would require such immigrants to establish they came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and lived there continuously since at least 2012.