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As Lawmakers Debate Future of DACA, What Will It Take for Democrats to Protect Dreamers?

Rep. Pramila Jayapal discusses immigration.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are continuing to debate the future of DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants permission to live and work in the United States. Republican lawmakers are pushing to include an amendment to punish so-called sanctuary cities as part of any immigration legislation to protect DREAMers. Meanwhile, a second federal judge has temporarily blocked the Trump administration from canceling DACA. On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Garaufis in New York issued an injunction to keep the program temporarily in place, warning its cancellation would have “profound and irreversible” social costs, writing, “It is impossible to understand the full consequences of a decision of this magnitude.” For more, we speak with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.


AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Pramila Jayapal, in addition to being a congressmember, you’re a longtime immigrants rights leader. Talk about what’s happening in Congress now, the Senate supposedly opening debate on DACA, what your body is doing, the House of Representatives.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL: The Senate is supposed to be opening debate, but, as you see, very little is happening, because Trump is saying that he wants four pillars, and he’s not going to sign anything without four pillars. There are numerous bipartisan deals on immigration that even give a significant amount on assessing the border, determining whether or not money is needed and how it’s needed, in exchange for 1.8 million DREAMers getting a path to citizenship. But Trump has said that he wants to end legal immigration as we know it. He wants to get rid of the diversity visas. He wants to do all kinds of things that are fundamentally changing the family-based immigration system in this country and legal immigration. So, he wants to be magnanimous, but he’s saying trade 1.8 million DREAMers for ending the ability for 22 million immigrants to come to the United States as parents, as adult children, closest family members.

So, I think the Senate is grappling with whether to make it a large proposal or a narrow proposal. I think the only way it passes is if it is very, very narrow. Paul Ryan has said that Trump — he’s not going to bring a bill to the floor unless Trump is going to sign it, which means that he’s not really interested in making a deal on DACA. And ultimately, we have to remember, it is Trump who rescinded DACA and created this crisis. And if we are not able to pass this, the lives of 800,000 DREAMers — actually, 1.8 million young people, who may not have gotten DACA but are DREAMers and would be eligible for deportation, may be deported. And so, I’m feeling furious about the way that this administration has handled DACA, and the unwillingness of Paul Ryan to bring a bipartisan bill — in the House, it’s the Hurd-Aguilar bill, that would — I think, already has 30 sponsors on each side and would actually be able to pass, if they would just give us a vote on that bill in the House.

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