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Massie on DACA: Bill Saving Program Should Only Apply to Existing Beneficiaries

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) holds a news conference on Dec. 9, 2015, outside of the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told PJM that any deal the GOP-led House of Representatives passes to fix the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program should only apply to current beneficiaries of the program rather than all undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

“Once you say there is no deadline, then you have legalized illegal immigration or undocumented immigration. If you say instead of having it date specific, like President Obama had, we’re going to have no date, then it’s beyond amnesty. It’s opening the borders completely – so that’s something people should be focusing on,” Massie said during an interview last week on Capitol Hill.

“Is that date going away? Is it getting moved? I don’t know, but if you are just talking about renewing DACA in the sense that Obama did it, it’s just a date and you’re just reaffirming that 2010 date – that might be something worth trading on chain migration or visa overstays or sanctuary cities or things like that,” he added.

President Obama’s original DACA executive order allowed undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday and “resided continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007” to apply for the program.

The Obama administration’s expansion of DACA, which was blocked by a federal court, would have allowed “certain aliens who arrived in the United States on or before January 1, 2010, to apply for deferred action.”

President Trump rescinded Obama’s DACA order last year and challenged Congress to work out a deal that would produce a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients. In the negotiations, Democrats have advocated for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children while Republicans have tried to include a provision that prevents their parents and siblings from being able to apply for citizenship. The White House and GOP negotiators also want Congress to pass funding for a barrier at the southern border, or a “wall” to help thwart future illegal immigration to the United States.

Massie, a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the White House and congressional negotiators should publicly disclose the date of eligibility for legal status that’s being considered in the DACA legislative debate.

“A lot of people are forgetting that DACA, Obama’s expansion of DACA, because it existed before Obama in some form, but his expansion of DACA only applies to people who got here before Jan. 1, 2010. Anybody that got here after Jan. 1, 2010, has no special privileges or immunities conferred on them by Obama’s DACA,” the congressman said. “So if we hit the deadline of March and nothing is done, guess what? Everybody that got here before Jan. 1, 2010, merely gets treated like all the people who got here after Jan. 1, 2010. It’s not the crisis that people are making it out to be.”

“I don’t think the date should move, but it’s an elephant in the room. If [the White House and congressional leaders] are thinking it should move, they are not mentioning it in that presidential meeting. They’re not mentioning it in the debates and I don’t know if it’s going to get mentioned in the bills – that’s what you should look for,” he added.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a member of Oversight Committee, told PJM that he would not support a bill that offers legal status or citizenship to DREAMers but leaves out additional border security and “chain migration” prevention measures.

“There have to be other reforms added to any DACA bill, but I haven’t spent enough time reviewing the precise details of what they’re negotiating. I’ve been working on this other issue,” Amash said, referring to his push for passage of an amendment to the FISA reauthorization bill to prevent warrantless surveillance.

After a recent court ruling, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has begun accepting status renewal requests from DACA recipients.

“USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. USCIS will not accept or approve advance parole requests from DACA recipients. If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request,” the USCIS website read.