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In Congress, DACA Faces Uncertain Fate

  • VOA News

FILE _ Demonstrators protest in front of the White House after the Trump administration today scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Sept. 5, 2017.

If you listen to the bipartisan chorus of Congressional voices speaking up in favor of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, it would be easy to think that the program, which protected almost 800,000 undocumented young people from deportation and allowed them to work, is safely on the road to revitalization.

But DACA still faces steep odds against making a come back.

If it were put to a national vote, opinion surveys indicate DACA would most likely be safe, with a clear majority of Americans supporting its legal protections. However, Congress - especially the Republican party - has long been divided on what to do about DACA and immigration in general. Reaction to the DACA decision this week has been no different.

On the plus side for enshrining DACA's protections in law, many Democrats and an increasing number of Republican lawmakers have spoken up for the program. And some, like conservative Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR) have offered tradeoffs like protecting DACA recipients in exchange for limiting overall immigration. Others are offering to support DACA in exchange for funding to pay for a border wall.

Here's a breakdown of where influential lawmakers who have spoken out stand on the issue. Many others have remained silent.

FILE - U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speak about proposed legislation to deal with so-called "Dreamers," children of undocumented immigrant families who were covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(DACA).
FILE - U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speak about proposed legislation to deal with so-called "Dreamers," children of undocumented immigrant families who were covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(DACA).

Support preserving DACA protections

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL: "For those young men and women across America, I can tell you this is a moment of great concern, great fear, and great anxiety about what's going to happen to their lives."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC: “I have introduced legislation to solve this problem along with Senator Durbin. I look forward to working with President Trump and my colleagues in Congress to find a fair solution to this difficult problem.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.: about legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors to obtain legal status if they work, pursue higher education or serve in the military. Tillis has called it a “fair but rigorous path.”

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ: “DACA fix is doable ... there are a lot of innocent kids counting on Congress to do its job."

Sen. John McCain, R-AZ: "The federal government has a responsibility to defend and secure our borders, but we must do so in a way that upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK: "I am ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to provide a legal, certain path forward for these children of our friends and neighbors."

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-CO: "I have long called for an overhaul of our country's immigration system and believe this is an important step."

Sen. James Lankford, R-OK: "It is right for there to be consequences for those who intentionally entered this country illegally. However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.”

Rep. Mike Coffman R-CO: "This morning (Thursday), the Speaker (Paul Ryan) told me he intends to work on an immigration measure that includes protection for DACA kids. This is a positive development."

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-IL: "Killing #DACA is a man made disaster."

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-FL: "The Recognizing America's Children act I introduced earlier this year would not only give peace of mind to hundreds of thousands across the country but also help grow our economy and create new jobs. It's also just the right thing to do."

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL, to VOA: "I hate to talk deals ... and (that) we're going to wheel and deal and trade saving them for a wall or anything like that ... It's an ugly process and I hope we do the right thing for DACA kids."

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa speaks with reporters in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa speaks with reporters in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.


Oppose DACA protections

Rep. Steve King, R-IA: “Ending DACA now gives [us a] chance 2 restore Rule of Law."

Rep. Justin Amash, R-MI: "Our Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress. Let's work together to responsibly address #DACA and other immigration matters."

Rep. Dave Brat, R-VA: “What makes our country great is that we were founded on the rule of law and the balance of power between three branches of government. If we allow DACA to continue, the legislative process simply becomes a pretense."

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-OH: "Obama's illegal executive order is not a viable solution for illegal immigration."

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, center, arrives for a meeting with House Republicans, Sept. 6, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, center, arrives for a meeting with House Republicans, Sept. 6, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.


Want broader immigration reforms as part of DACA talks

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI: "It's only reasonable and fitting that we also address the root cause of the problem which is borders that are not sufficiently controlled while we address this very real and very human problem that's right in front of us."

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-AR: "A standalone DACA amnesty will also be rejected if it is not combined with legislative reforms that lessen those consequences and produce lasting gains for all Americans."

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC: "We have to start with border security and the wall . . . . With a merit-based legal immigration system, if we look into that, then I'm willing to look in a compassionate way of handling this DACA issue."

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-AZ: "There is a serious discussion to be had about immigration reform in America. However, it must only come when we have fulfilled our promises to secure the border and enforce all current immigration laws."

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-TN: “Our focus should be Americans out of work, underpaid, or concerned for their safety, because of unfettered illegal immigration and related border crime.”

FILE - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 1, 2017.
FILE - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 1, 2017.

Ducking DACA for now

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mcconnell, R-KY: “This Congress will continue working on securing our border and ensuring a lawful system of immigration that works.”

Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY: "We have too much to do this month, for sure — we've got to get tax reform done this year — so we have until next February or March.

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