Where are our brave Republican members of Congress?
They have a unique opportunity to do what many claim is a priority: Make immigration law. More specifically, they have the chance to bring permanence to what former President Barack Obama did with an executive order. He acted to protect some Dreamers, those who were brought to the United States by their parents at a young age without the proper paperwork.
Obama’s was a temporary fix, nothing more.
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The only member of the local congressional delegation to sign on is Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. But he’s a Democrat, one of 190 who have signed.
This measure is an attempt by moderate members of the GOP to force the hand of hardliners. So far, 23 Republicans are on board.
Local holdouts include Missouri Reps. Sam Graves and Vicky Hartzler, as well as Kansas Reps. Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins.
What the more centrist Republicans are seeking is a permanent solution for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients.
This is a real test for Republicans. Are they going to come to the table, one that is being set by members of their own party? Or stall?
Last fall, President Donald Trump announced that he would end the DACA program, which provides only a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation.
Yoder’s office said he’s unwilling to address the situation of the young people without support for his legislation to decrease visa backlogs to help highly skilled immigrants and support for other measures to address border security.
While comprehensive reform is desirable, the situation these young people find themselves in is dire. Without a permanent fix, more will be deported.
Graves has applauded Trump’s decision to end the DACA program, which required people to be re-approved every two years. And in April, he sent his constituents this message: “I believe our primary goal in fixing the immigration system should be to control and defend our borders. Period.”
Yes, border security is important.
But Congress also needs to attend to reality. These young people have spent virtually their whole lives in the U.S. They think of themselves as Americans and are eager to contribute by earning college degrees, learning skilled trades and serving in the military.
They simply need a handful of Republicans to be equally courageous.