Columns

House Dem Leader: Pass DREAM Act for Christmas in 'Judeo-Christian Tradition'

Protesters crowd the walkways and hang banners demanding a clean DREAM Act in the Hart Senate Office Building on Nov. 9, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus called on lawmakers Tuesday to pass a DREAM Act to save the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program beneficiaries from deportation in the name of the Christmas season.

“The bottom line is there’s only 15 legislative days to accomplish this before the end of this year. And I don’t think this is something that can wait until March. With Christmas coming, with the new year coming, I think in — and certainly in the Judeo-Christian tradition, this is a time where we look to help folks who are in need,” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“And we have 800,000 individuals in this country right now who are looking for our government to do the right thing. They are cultural Americans. They are every much American as we are, except they don’t have that piece of paper,” he added. “And the president has created this crisis by his announcement of the elimination of the DACA program and has given the Congress six months to act. I think it really is — we really need to act within these next 15 legislative days to make this a reality. I hope we can do it.”

Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said if Republicans and President Trump are “not just paying lip service to the 800,000 DREAMers in this country, then they need to come forward with a serious plan immediately.”

“I want, again, folks to be crystal clear on what the impediment is, because if a clean DREAM Act were put on the floor today, I believe there — we have enough members of Congress that would vote for it, that it would become law,” she added. “And yet here we sit and wait for the president and for the Republican leadership that controls the floor schedule to actually act on something that America needs to get done.”

Thirteen former top national security officials, including former Defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Ashton Carter, former CIA directors Gen. Michael Hayden and John Brennan, former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, wrote a letter to House and Senate leaders Tuesday urging that the DACA fix be included in the year-end spending bill. They noted that nearly 900 DREAMers currently serving in the armed forces or are in training are at risk of deportation.

In a Fox News townhall Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said a DACA fix would not be included in the spending bill. “We’re planning on keeping that separate from spending,” he said.

Crowley also criticized the Department of Homeland Security for not honoring dozens of applications filed by DREAMers and mailed on the Oct. 5 deadline.

“The Department of Homeland Security is saying that those individuals are no longer eligible for DACA applications. And we believe that that’s simply wrong,” the Dem chairman said. “The standard that is used for taxes, the standards used for so many other requirements by Americans, is the postal date itself. We think the postal date ought to be honored.”

“The Post Office has admitted themselves that it was through their error that these applications were not received by the October 5th date. And we do not agree with the decision by the Department of Homeland Security not to honor those applications.”