In September of 2017, President Trump rescinded DACA, the program that protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from being deported. Then he put the ball in Congress’s court and gave them a March 5 deadline to pass some kind of permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients.
Six whole months. Surely Congress could get something of this import passed in six months.
They didn’t. Even though a 2017 poll shows that 78 percent of all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, believe that these young people — the so-called DREAMers — should be allowed to stay permanently in the U.S., Congress did nothing to protect them.
The pull of party politics was once again just too tempting. And soon these young DREAMers — bright, ambitious, upstanding — were being used as bargaining chips. Human beings in exchange for a wall. And while Congress quibbled, the March 5 deadline came and went. Even two compromise bills with strong bipartisan support failed to pass the Senate after President Trump said he would veto them.
It’s unconscionable. Even though the courts have thankfully intervened for the time being and DACA recipients will continue to have their renewal applications processed for the foreseeable future, there is still no permanent legislative fix.
In March, frustrated by the congressional standstill, a bipartisan group of House members decided to invoke a little known procedural rule called “Queen of the Hill” that would force a vote on four different immigration proposals — the DREAM Act of 2017, the USA Act of 2018, the Goodlatte bill, and a fourth proposal of Speaker Paul Ryan’s choosing. All four proposals would be voted on (and members could vote for more than one), and whichever received the most votes over 218 would be approved by the House and would be advanced to the Senate.
But Speaker Ryan has stalled. And so Wednesday, moderate Republicans filed a discharge petition which, if signed by a majority of House members, would force a vote on the four bills. It seems a no-brainer. Four different bills, one very conservative, two more moderate and a fourth that Ryan himself would choose. And a chance to actually take action and move things forward.
So far, only one of Utah’s four representatives has signed the petition — Rep. Mia Love. In a statement released Wednesday, Love said:
“For months, I have worked hard to advance bipartisan proposals through committees but have exhausted all options. By signing this petition, I am joining my colleagues to facilitate long-awaited action. If we do nothing, we abdicate our responsibility to the Executive and Judiciary branches, who continue to shape immigration policy when they have no authority to do so.”
She continues: “This is not about any one particular bill. It’s about transparency, accountability, and fulfilling our Article One responsibility to create sensible immigration laws. Utahns, and the American people, deserve to know where their Representatives stand on this important issue.”
We agree. Once again, at least on the issue of immigration, Love has shown real courage and a willingness to put principles before party. We applaud her for this. And we call upon Reps. John Curtis, Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart to follow suit. Do the right thing. The time is long past to get this done.
Sharlee Mullins Glenn is the founder of the nonpartisan organization Mormon Women for Ethical Government.