• December 9th, 2021
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Dream Act: The Time is Now


Editor’s Note: Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) addressed the House last week during morning business on the floor and discussed a letter signed by 83 House Democrats urging House Leadership and Appropriators to attach the Dream Act to the Omnibus spending bill that will be voted on this week.

 

On September 5th of last year, the day after Labor Day, the temperature was 86 degrees in Washington. So that was a long time ago. On that day, President Trump and his henchmen announced they were killing the DACA program. The next day, meeting with my Democratic colleagues, I said I would not support any spending or budget bills that failed to include the Dream Act or some other serious attempt to put Dreamers with DACA in a safe place.

Now, tell me, how does cutting out hardworking immigrants and guaranteeing that the only available avenue to come and work in América is an illegal one – how does that protect Dreamers?

That was six months ago and we are right back where we started. The Republicans have a bill to cut legal immigration and abandon the Dreamers in semi-legal limbo, and the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee had a press conference about it yesterday (March 13) and is touting his bill as the last chance to get something done about DACA.

What the Chairman did not mention is that his bill is actually about something else. It is about changing the racial make-up of América’s immigrants so that more of them are white and fewer of them come from countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin América.

Analysis by the Center for Global Development of Goodlatte’s proposal states the following:

Hispanic and black immigrants would be roughly twice as likely to be barred by the immigration cuts as white immigrants;

The legal immigration cuts would bar the majority of Muslim and Catholic immigrants from coming legally;

While the President keeps saying he wants a better class of immigrants coming to América, the cuts would actually substantially reduce the number of university-graduate immigrants.

The Goodlatte bill would expand some work visas, but we would only add one university graduate for every other immigrant removed by eliminating the family visas and Diversity Visas.

Now, tell me, how does cutting out hardworking immigrants and guaranteeing that the only available avenue to come and work in América is an illegal one – how does that protect Dreamers?

It doesn’t. And we are once again chasing bad policies down a rabbit hole because the real agenda on the other side of the aisle is to leverage the national concern over the plight of the Dreamers into a radical re-ordering of legal immigration to make it whiter.

Sorry. That is not the agenda of my party and frankly, it is not the agenda of my fellow Americans.

So with more than 80 of my colleagues (the final count was 83 Members of the House), we released a letter today (Mar 14) at a press conference we wrote to the leaders in both parties in the House and to the House Appropriators.

It echoes what I started saying six months ago: we need a budget or spending measure that includes the Dream Act. Punto.

This week or next, we all know we need to pass a budget to keep the government open and it will either be another short-term CR or it will be an Omnibus spending bill.

And Democrats are clear: our country, our Congress, and our leaders need to figure out how Dreamers get to live in the country they grew up in, the country they love, and the country that has invested so much in them and received so much from them.

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. The federal courts didn’t settle this or give us a permanent solution; they just gave a lot of lawmakers a convenient excuse for inaction. And I’m not buying it and neither should you.

Because also in that spending bill we will be asked to consider, there are likely to be billions of dollars for deportation, detention, breaking up families and breaking down doors in neighborhoods across the country.

That is why our letter says we not only want the Dream Act included in the Omnibus, but we want to reduce funding appropriated to DHS’s detention and deportation machine, specifically funding for detention beds, deportation agents operating under ICE and CBP, and border militarization.

And we oppose any funding that expands the construction of walls or fencing at the southern border. We should instead allocate border security resources to modernize the infrastructure and technology at our ports of entry, which would actually benefit our country and our economy.

So, Mr. Speaker, six months after Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions instigated this crisis by proclaiming their desire to deport Dreamers and kicking their safety and security in our nation to this do-nothing Congress, we now have what could be the last opportunity to actually take permanent legislative action.

Do not be distracted by the President’s nativist agenda or the bills in Congress that seek to implement his nationalist views.  Do not give up on taking action that is serious and will actually protect Dreamers and the communities they live in; and do not allow the deportation and family destruction machine to thrive and grow on our watch.

We must take a stand, right here, right now, and stand up for what is right and what is beneficial to our country.

I am proud to stand with the majority of Americans and the 83 (final count) colleagues who joined me on this letter.

The time is now.

 

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

 

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