A ‘Dreamer’ shares how DACA program made a difference for him
U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse decided to go with his conscience rather than his caucus, and it was the right choice.
The Fourth District congressman was one of only seven Republicans who voted earlier this month to support H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019.
The legislation provides a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally as children through no fault of their own.
Led by a Democratic majority in the House, the bill recently passed 237-187, but Newhouse predicts it won’t get enough votes in the GOP-controlled Senate.
That’s a shame.
This issue has been dragging on for years. While there appears to be bipartisan support in both chambers to help those caught in this immigration limbo, political posturing and legislative details have stopped progress.
Newhouse called the latest legislation “deeply flawed” and said it does not address “serious security and humanitarian concerns at our southern border,” so it doesn’t have a chance of getting signed into law.
Still, we are glad to see our Republican congressman stick up for his constituents and support the act despite his reservations.
The bill would affect those who were recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before it ended in 2017.
The strategy was created as a stop-gap. It wasn’t exactly a path to citizenship, but it allowed qualified individuals to receive work permits, attend college, get a driver’s license and join the military.
The greatest benefit was providing Dreamers some certainty in their lives and an ability to plan.
To be eligible, applicants had to meet certain requirements — such as no criminal record, for example, and they either had to be enrolled in high school or already have earned a diploma.
Newhouse said that at the time of the program’s demise, President Trump urged Congress to act so Dreamers could have certainty on their legal status.
It still hasn’t happened.
What is especially frustrating is that the plight of Dreamers is not, on its own, particularly controversial and could be remedied if lawmakers would quit using them as political pawns.
Children who entered this country with undocumented parents had no choice in the matter. They grew up here, attended school, made friends and call the U.S. their home.
However, they are non-citizens, even though they know no other country.
Many have gone on to become teachers, nurses, firefighters and other hard-working employees in other career fields. Others joined the armed services to defend our rights and our country.
By all accounts, they are law-abiding citizens — just not “legal” citizens on paper.
This group should not be punished for the actions of their parents.
More than 17,000 people who belonged to the DACA program live in Washington state, and one-third of those live in Newhouse’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties.
Newhouse said he wants a solution that will get 218 House votes, 60 votes in the Senate and the president’s signature or “there is no relief for these young people.”
Although he doesn’t think this latest effort will hit that standard, he was right to cross the aisle and support the Dream and Promise Act along with House Democrats.
We urge members of the Senate to follow that lead, and also put people over party.