If immigration is the most frustrating example of congressional inaction, then the people falling under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status are the poster children of that dysfunction.
This week Congress passed the deadline the president set last year to act on a permanent solution for the Dreamers who came to this country illegally as children but have established themselves as the very picture of American upward mobility by going to college.
There is no red state vs. blue state debate here. It’s an issue where Utahns and Californians align. A Tribune/Hinckley Institute poll in January had 69 percent of Utahns wanting a solution that allows Dreamers to stay and work in the country that gave them a path to success. That includes 61 percent of Utahns who say they are Republicans.
But Congress is where intentions go to die. Members of Utah’s all-Republican congressional delegation say they want to pass an immigration bill that includes protections for the nearly 800,000 people who fall under DACA, but even they can’t seem to agree on which legislation to support.
“Our own congressmen and [congress]woman and senators could not come together on this. That was really disappointing,” Alonso Reyna Rivarola told The Tribune this week. Reyna Rivarola has been accepted to a Ph.D. program at the University of Utah, but he’s uncertain if he’ll be able to stay unless his DACA status is renewed.
Even the March 5 deadline was itself a product of the dysfunction. DACA protections were put in place through an executive order of President Barack Obama because Congress couldn’t pass legislation to do it. President Donald Trump, always wanting to replace Obama’s executive orders with his own, rescinded Obama’s order last September, giving Congress six months to act.
And here we sit.
More vulnerable than Reyna Rivarola are the aspiring high school students who don’t know if college or deportation awaits them. It’s an uncertainty their classmates don’t face.
LDS Church President Russell M. Nelson, in his first major policy statement as church leader in January, called on Congress to prevent Dreamers from being deported: “These individuals have demonstrated a capacity to serve and contribute positively in our society, and we believe they should be granted the opportunity to continue to do so.”
Get on the same page, Utah congressional members, and help Utah’s Dreamers get on with their lives.