We are running out of time to protect Dreamers

We are running out of time to protect Dreamers
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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.

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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 GutierrezTrump seeks to restrict green cards from those on food, housing assistance Trump ignores practical solution for stopping illegal immigration Illinois officer resigns after not helping woman harassed for wearing Puerto Rico shirt 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 TillisTrump assures storm victims in Carolinas: 'We will be there 100 percent' North Carolina governor: We saw ‘significant damage’ in eastern part of state GOP senator on allegation against Kavanaugh: 'Why on Earth' wasn't it discussed earlier? MORE (R-N.C.) and James LankfordJames Paul LankfordTrump’s new cyber approach: The best defense is a good offense Conservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Outdated global postal system hurts US manufacturers MORE (R-Okla.) have introduced the SUCCEED Act. 

Immigration reform veterans, Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHouse Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday Rosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Graham: There's a 'bureaucratic coup' taking place against Trump MORE (R-S.C.) and Richard DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment 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 CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford 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 RyanDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage How does the 25th Amendment work? Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act 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.