A new group of 17 Republican lawmakers today called for a bipartisan legislative solution to permanently protect America’s Dreamers before the end of the year.
Washington Congressman Dan Newhouse, who said the group “isn’t your usual cast of characters,” was joined by Republican legislators in the House representing Indiana, Texas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Nebraska, California, New Jersey and Florida.
The lawmakers are part of a growing consortium of conservative voices who in recent weeks have reaffirmed strong support for finding a permanent bipartisan solution that would shield America’s Dreamers from deportation. The average Dreamer came to the United States at the age of six, and is now 26 years old. Most are employed or in school.
Yesterday, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates penned an op-ed in the New York Times confirming that not passing a Dream Act would undermine national security efforts. More than 800 Dreamers are currently serving in the armed forces, according to Secretary Gates, who said he felt “humbled by their sense of duty, by their willingness to risk life and limb for a country they yearned to call their own.”
Quotes from today’s press conference are below:
Congressman Pete King (R-NY): “We should get this done as quickly as possible. … When you’re talking about young people who know no country other than the United States as being their own. We have to stand with them. I saw the statement today by the former Defense Secretary Gates saying what an integral part of armed forces DACA is. So let’s not undermine our armed forces. I also hear from many business people in my community how important it is. So it’s not just a humanitarian issue, it’s a military issue, it’s an economic issue, it’s an American issue. So let’s get this done.”
Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ): “This should not be a political football. Ronald Reagan is the father of the modern Republican Party. The last time we had immigration reform in this country was under President Reagan. … It’s clear that the American people want results on this issue. … Time is of the essence. I am convinced there is a solution, and this solution should occur as quickly as possible.”
Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL): “They love this country, just as much as we do. … It’s the law that has to catch up to these young immigrants and recognize them for who they are: People who are Americans, who love this country, … who pledge allegiance to this flag, who want to serve this country and are already contributing greatly to our wonderful country. … We reject the ‘all or none’ approach. … that compromise is out there.”
Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN): “This is about helping from a compassionate perspective … America is the only country they know. And for all practical purposes they are Americans. And there is a governing majority, I believe in the House and Senate that can see this issue come to pass to fruition successfully.”
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA): “[DACA recipients] do follow a category that I think long ago should have been dealt with, and dealt with compassionately. The question is will you judge 435 Members of the House and at least some of the 100 Members of the Senate for their willingness to get off of the status quo … are you willing to get off of the ‘enforcement first’ or the ‘all or nothing’?”
Congressman John Faso (R-NY): “[DACA recipients] are as American as apple pie. … It is time for Congress to act. … I think there is a broad bipartisan — more than 300 Member majority in this House of Representatives — that would pass a reasonable DACA fix today, and it is incumbent upon the Congress to act. It’s vital that we act, and we should act sooner rather than later.”
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA): “The average Dreamer came to this country at the age of 6 and are now 26. … They serve in our military. They are teachers. They are nurses and engineers. Many Dreamers were part of the Hurricane Harvey first responders. … and DACA recipient Alonso Guillen, a rescue volunteer, died while trying to save his fellow Texans stranded in the high waters. It is incumbent on Congress to get this done, to protect these children and that we will do.”
Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN): “The DACA beneficiaries need the stability, as you’ve heard, a legislative solution, and the sooner the better. … These young people are contributing in significant ways to our communities. They have pledged allegiance to our flag. They are a part of this country. My constituents also say we need to fix this problem, and we need to fix it quickly in a bipartisan way. So these young people deserve our support. I just urge all of us to come together on this as quickly as possible.”
Congressman Ryan Costello (R-PA): “We in Congress need to provide a humane, permanent and constitutional solution to this issue. … It does require Congress to step up and legislate and to do so in a way that that reflects the best about our country, which is that we are a compassionate people. … Let’s not wait until five months and 30 days. Let’s do this earlier rather than later. Let’s demonstrate that we can work together and that we are doing this for the right reasons.”
Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE): “But I also heard over and over that we need to find a compassionate way forward for the DACA youth who are here. Folks who only know this country as theirs. They don’t know any other country, the ones I’ve talked to. Most of them came here at 2 or 3 years old, the ones I chatted with. So I heard that loud and clear … Now I’ve met with around 300 DACA youth in our local area. And they are some of the most impressive young men and women you’d ever meet. One young man already has his own clothing line, his own store, he’s only 17. … I hear some heartbreaking stories, like about a young man that he said he’s been afraid his whole life to be pulled over with a broken tail light because he would be deported. He wouldn’t even know where he is being deported to because he’s only known this country. … This is a tailor-made problem for a bipartisan fix, … finding a permanent way forward for our DACA youth so they never have to be worried about being deported again. And I know this House can do it. This Congress can.”
Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI): “We’ve got to get this thing done. We’ve got to get it done. [Dreamers are] worried when they go home, they’re worried about their jobs, they’re worrying about finishing school. They wonder what is going to happen next. That’s not the life that they ought to have here. And that is why we need to act before the end of the year to give them that certainty. Let’s get it done and get a bill to [the President’s desk] that he can sign and say ‘Merry Christmas’ to a lot of folks across the country.”
Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX): “This is not a Democrat initiative. It’s a bipartisan initiative. And when the bill comes to the floor, whatever bill it is, I predict that it will have a huge vote with well over 300 votes to send this bill to the Senate. … It’s just common sense, if you do what’s in the best interest of the United States, to allow the DACA students to stay in the United States and earn a path first to legal status and then a pathway to citizenship if they so choose. … We’d like to do it by the end of this calendar year — but certainly within the six months window President Trump gave us when he rescinded the Executive Order.”
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): “This is their home, this is where they’ve grown up, this is the language they speak. And to tear them apart from this land that they love, would just be heartless… There’s a whole bunch of us who want to make this dream a reality and I stand ready to work alongside them.”
Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-WA): “Every day that Congress fails to act, every time that Congress kicks this can down the road, people – real people – are hurt. We as Members of Congress recognize the positive contributions that Dreamers have made to the social and economic wellbeing of the United States. … No bill is going to be perfect, but inaction is just not acceptable. We stand here ready to work…to pass a legislative solution this year.”