WASHINGTON – Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, predicted that Congress would pass a “fix” to protect beneficiaries under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Trump rescinded.
Democrats in Congress are calling for a passage of a DREAM Act that offers a path to citizenship for existing DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) said the passage of a clean DREAM Act in the GOP-controlled Congress that does not outlaw “chain migration” would lead to a “nightmare scenario.”
“If you just do the DACA [fix], right, that’s 700,000-plus; chain [migration] attached to it is 3 to 4 million [people], according to most estimates. And then the Democrats are talking about DREAMers, and that’s 3 to 4 million – and then with chain, that’s 11 or 12 million, right, and that’s a permanent in,” Brat said during a “Conversations with Conservatives” event on Capitol Hill last week.
“So I’ve worked at the World Bank and I’ve worked on world poverty issues and economics for all my life,” he added. “We want to help everyone in the world, but also you have to design policy that’s good for your own country.”
Brat noted that the Supreme Court blocked President Obama’s directive to process applications for legal status from the parents of young undocumented immigrants through the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program as well as his expansion of the DACA program.
“So if you are going to fix that, we currently have a broken K-12 education system, we currently have a broken welfare system, we have broken labor markets and all that, right? So how do you do a policy that’s good for the American people? Well, if you have a permanent inflow, what’s the problem with that? You just put on a green light,” Brat said.
“You just let several million people in and then that sends a signal to the rest of the world – who all make lower incomes than the United States of America – that if you make it in, the American people are a generous people, which we are, we do a million legal people per year, but that’s the green light that goes up. So, you haven’t solved the problem. You just created a nightmare scenario,” he added.
Brat argued that any DACA-related bill should include a prohibition on “chain migration” and include border security measures.
“So what you have to do with any DACA negotiation is you have to put in place the end of chain migration, you have to do something on border security, which e-verify would do, and if you put in those permanent fixes then you are not creating this just constant moral hazard and perverse economic effects that you know will result if you don’t put in permanent fixes to correspondent with being generous,” he said. “The American people are generous, but they are also rational and they have a gut feel, and in the last election that was litigated on both sides.”
Thirty-four House Republicans sent a letter Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calling for a solution to save 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries from deportation before the end of the year.
The letter, led by Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.), stresses the lawmakers’ demand for “a permanent legislative solution” for “young people brought to America through no fault of their own” and “are contributing members of our communities and our economy.”
“For many, this is the only country they have ever known,” they added. “They are American in every way except their immigration status.”
Ryan has said he wants a DACA fix, but separate from a spending bill.
Meadows said a bill that deals with DACA should not be connected to the short-term budget bill or “continuing resolution,” but predicted that the issue would eventually get resolved. He also said that rushing to pass a CR before Christmas Day would not be a good idea; lawmakers passed a short-term CR this week that runs through Dec. 22 to avert a government shutdown this weekend.
“If the first major piece of legislation we put on the president’s desk is to fix DACA, it does not work. Now, that being said, there are a number of working groups with [House Freedom Caucus] members who are working very diligently in terms of trying to fix that particular issue. We know that March is coming up,” Meadows said.
“We know that deadline is here and, yeah, I do believe that it will get fixed and it will be part of really addressing more the illegal immigration side of it in addition to the DACA fix,” he added. “But a short-term CR – listen guys, this is not your first rodeo. Does anything good happen a couple of days before Christmas in terms of decisions here on Capitol Hill?”
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) agreed with Meadows that Congress should wait to pass a CR until after Christmas.
“I hope and pray that we don’t do that,” said Gohmert. “If we do a short-term CR, it’s going to be bad for the things that got us the majority.”
Rushing the process, Gohmert said, would allow “all kinds of things” to land in the bill that conservatives would ultimately regret.
“It is always what the least responsible people in Congress want to do because they know we get a spending bill right before Christmas and nobody can read it and the way we got the majority,” he said. “If you go back and look at 2010, we made fun of the Democrats, particularly Pelosi saying we’ve got to pass it to see what’s in it. And over and over, one of the most prolific statements made to get elected in 2010 was, ‘If you give us the majority back, we will read the bills.’”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) urged Congress to put off the CR passage until sometime in January.
“Much better plan is to kick it into January,” he said.