Will Congress Step in to Protect Dreamers?

The president will announce his decision about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) sometime over the 3-day holiday weekend. As I wrote previously, he will not support it. The only remaining question is what process he will propose to end it.

More than any other policy issue, this is the one that demonstrates that Trump and Republicans are motivated to undo any progress made by the previous administration. One example of that is to remember that prior to Obama’s executive order, Sen. Marco Rubio was attempting to make a name for himself by sponsoring the Dream Act, which would have accomplished the same thing. Now listen to what Speaker Paul Ryan said today.

I am sure that there are probably some Republicans who simply want to deport these young people. But there are also many who don’t. The reason they opposed DACA is because Obama did it.

Ryan is being dishonest when he says that their opposition is based on the idea that the former president didn’t have the authority to implement DACA. The Constitutional scholar who signed the executive order studied the issue deeply and based his action on those taken by both Reagan and Bush. Beyond that, Obama would be the first to agree with the idea that Congress needs to act on this. He tried relentlessly to get Republicans to solve this problem by passing the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill crafted by the so-called “Gang of Eight” during his second term. They were unwilling to do so.

Ryan now says that, when it comes to Dreamers, he agrees with Trump that there needs to be a “humane” solution and that Congress is working on it. That’s news to me. When the speaker has been asked about his legislative priorities, he has never mentioned this one.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) introduced the Bridge Act back in January that would provide a legislative solution for Dreamers and has 25 cosponsors (both Democratic and Republican). But to date, there has been no action on it. Here is what he tweeted yesterday as concerns mounted that Trump is about to reverse DACA.

That sounds like he wants to force a vote with or without the support of the speaker.

I suspect that if something like the Bridge Act were to come up for a vote, it would pass with support from both Democrats and Republicans. But if that is what Ryan wanted to do, it would have happened a while ago. What is much more likely is that he will wait until Trump announces his plans to reverse DACA and then use the Dreamers as leverage with Democrats. At some point, it would be interesting to ask him if that’s what he calls “humane.”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .