Earlier this week, President Donald Trump (R) met with Congress to move negotiations forward on how to address the future of undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
According to initial reports, members of both parties and the White House said they agreed that the four immigration issues to be addressed initially include DACA, border security, changes to family based migration, also known as chain migration, and an end to the visa lottery system.
Trump has stated that he is looking for a legislative solution to keep undocumented immigrants in the country but only if it comes with the security of a wall between the United States and Mexico.
The negotiations come at the same time that a federal judge temporarily halted Trump’s decision to end DACA on Wednesday, a ruling that will only temporarily halt deportations for almost 800,000 children and adults in the program.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) believes the court ruling is just another step in the right direction toward passing legislation to protect Dreamers, as the Wall Street Journal reported.
“The ruling last night in no way diminishes the urgency of resolving the DACA issue. On this we agree with the White House. The iron is hot. We should strike now,” said Schumer on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The issue of what to do concerning the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants (including DACA immigrants) has now gone before two administrations – President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama – with Congress failing to pass legislation to address the issue.
In regards to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) – immigrants given temporary protected status in the U. S. because they are unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions – the law was first enacted in 1990 and has gone through five presidential administrations without being settled.
Currently there is still no DACA agreement but negotiations are ongoing.
With this as a backdrop, KCP asked Brooklyn’s Democratic Congressmembers Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Jerrold Nadler; and lone Republican Congressmember Dan Donovan the following bolded questions.
Only Jeffries responded to each question, which follows, and the other congress members submitted statements:
Where do you stand on current DACA negotiations with Republicans and Donald Trump?
While I would prefer a clean DACA extension, I fully support the current DACA negotiations taking place with Republicans and President Trump, and look forward to a deal before funding expires that addresses the issue.
Are you willing to fund the wall in exchange for a path to citizenship for all DACA people? Why or why not?
No Border Wall should be part of any spending agreement. Donald Trump promised that Mexico would pay the cost of the wall, not the American taxpayer. He should keep his word, cross the border and discuss funding of a border wall with President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Is there any proposed bipartisan legislation floating around Congress that the Congressmember supports and/or is attached to, and if so, what is it?
I am proud to co-sponsor: HR 3440, the Dream Act of 2017 and HR 3591, the American Hope Act of 2017, both of which provide different legislative vehicles for the revival of the DACA Program and a path to citizenship or permanent residency.
Do you think a possible immigration/DACA deal is possible as part of the Jan 18 funding measure or do you think they should be separate and why?
I think that a DACA deal is an essential part of the January 18th funding measure, as the funding negotiations have so far provided the necessary leverage for us to force House Republicans to address the issue.
Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Lower Manhattan) vowed to continue to push for the passage of a bipartisan Dream Act.
“This [court] ruling, while an important check on President Trump’s executive actions, is only a brief reprieve for the thousands of young Dreamers who face an uncertain future. Establishing a permanent solution by codifying DACA into law remains a pressing priority and this injunction does not alleviate that urgency. If a clean Dream Act were put on the floor, it would pass with bipartisan support and I challenge the House Republican Leadership to take that step immediately,” said Velazquez.
Clarke’s spokesperson Christine Bennett said while Clarke believes in keeping the borders strong, she will vote against any legislation that builds Trump’s wall that squanders taxpayer dollars, and further divides this country.
Donovan said Trump’s meeting with a bipartisan group of leaders to discuss immigration reform displayed remarkable political courage by trying to make a deal on a problem that’s been kicked down the road for years.
“I fully support President Trump’s push to secure the border, legislatively fix DACA, and reform our broken and backwards immigration system,” said Donovan.
“Border patrol arrests are already at a 46-year low, and with additional investments we can finally control who comes into our country. That’s why I voted to authorize $10 billion in border protection funding. As I’ve said all along, reforming pieces of our immigration system is pointless unless we stop the flow of illegal entries. Otherwise, we’ll end up with the same problem in a few years,” he added.
Nadler did not return emails at post time and if and when he does this story will be updated.