Barreling towards a legislative debate

A personal note to begin with: Friends and colleagues who are DACA-recipients, you are not alone. We are in this together.

Politico just broke news that President Trump has decided to end DACA with a 6-month grace period.

My heart breaks for the young immigrants for whom fear and anguish will replace the promise they both saw and brought to America. They are our colleagues, our friends, our neighbors, our fellow church-goers. They are American in every way but paperwork.

While no official White House announcement has been made, two things will quickly happen.

One, the millions of Americans who have come to realize that their child’s best friend is undocumented, that the family one pew over at church is undocumented, that the family down the street is undocumented, will question the president’s decision.

Second, attention will turn to Congress.

If we leverage number one to impact number two, we have an opening.

Going into the weekend, I was worried we did not have the necessary conservative support.

On Wednesday, Governor Jeb Bush leaned his shoulder against the needle as he was one of the first high profile Republicans to urge President Trump to protect Dreamers. (Bush offered more specifics later in the week.)

The dam started to break with Speaker Ryan, Governor Scott, Governor Kasich, hundreds of CEOs, and hundreds of evangelical leaders at the local and national level, all urging the preservation of DACA and passage of bipartisan legislation.

And just days after SB4 was enjoined, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told Fox News Congress should, “step up and pass immigration reform.”

Even more surprisingly, Tennessee AG Slatery, who had signed a letter threatening to sue the administration unless DACA was revoked, wrote on Friday, “At this time, our office has decided not to challenge DACA in the litigation, because we believe there is a better approach.”

All to say, if tonight’s reports are true, we are barreling towards a legislative debate.

A debate that will be won or lost in conservative circles.

If the uptick in conservative support for a legislative solution we saw last week continues to grow (grasstops and grassroots), bipartisan legislation with reasonable enforcement measures is possible.

(I’m not saying *how* possible.)

If Breitbart and friends manage to rattle Republican members, the legislation will quickly fade or the enforcement measures will become so draconian as to lose the support of Democrats and the community.

Fortunately, there are a number of legislative vehicles to choose from. These include the Recognizing America’s Children Act, Dream Act of 2017, Bridge Act and American Hope Act.

And, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has said he will introduce his own “conservative version of the DREAM Act” in the coming weeks.

By-the-by, Tillis is the keynote speaker at our October 5 convening in DC, Leading the Way: A New Approach to American Immigration.

Game on.


President and CEO of National Immigration Forum, author of “Crossing Borders” (April 2022, Rowman & Littlefield), host of the podcast, Only in America.

President and CEO of National Immigration Forum, author of “Crossing Borders” (April 2022, Rowman & Littlefield), host of the podcast, Only in America.