I am proud of the Democrats who stood up for Dreamers in the wee hours of the morning and cast a very difficult vote against the Senate budget deal. This was one of the hardest votes I have ever taken because there are many good things in the package for the people of my District and the people of Puerto Rico, both of whom I love deeply. But many Democrats stood on principle and did what we were morally commanded to do in order to protect our fellow Americans, the Dreamers.
Since September, I and other Democrats have withheld our support for must-pass spending, debt ceiling and spending cap votes to prevent the tragedy of seeing Dreamers deported. As their legal protections expire, more will be lost, and as we face the rest of the year, our ability to hold Republicans to account to our values has faded. Clearly we need a new way forward.
Protecting them from deportation is not just an act of mercy or altruism for them and their families, it is vital to protecting America’s reputation and standing in the world.
Today starts the new chapter in fighting to protect Dreamers who grew up in this country and are our fellow Americans. Protecting them from deportation is not just an act of mercy or altruism for them and their families, it is vital to protecting America’s reputation and standing in the world. The image of America deporting fellow Americans is not something this country or the Republican Party want to see unfolding every night on the national and local news. And when deported doctors, soldiers and teachers show up in shackles in foreign countries and grant interviews in impeccable English on local and international news, it will stain the reputation of the nation we all love.
On March 5, the number of Dreamers who become undocumented and unable to work and live here without the constant fear of deportation begins to escalate tenfold. So the clock is ticking loudly for a new way forward.
If Republicans in Congress and in the White House are serious about avoiding the ugly spectacle of deporting Dreamers, they need to reach out and reach out fast. We have crafted bipartisan legislation in the past and I am a veteran of those efforts, so I know there are good people on both sides of the aisle who want to get something done. Now we just need the courage and the decency to end the squabbling and get down to legislating a solution to the problem and protecting Dreamers – and America – from the nightmare that we should have never had to fear.
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
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