Top Dem Says Paul Ryan Should 'Open His Heart,' Listen to Pope on DACA

pope francis at the vatican

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus argued today that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) should listen to Pope Francis and "open up his heart" -- and allow one of the bipartisan bills to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to come to the floor.

President Trump's deadline for Congress to arrive at a solution to save some 800,000 DACA beneficiaries passed last month without resolution, as Democrats and some Republicans weren't on board with the riders the White House insisted be attached to secure Trump's signature. These included limiting family reunification to spouses and minor children and ending the visa lottery.

DACA beneficiaries have been protected from deportation, though, by court injunctions in several cases brought against Trump's rescission of the Obama-era program. On Tuesday, a Bush-appointee judge in D.C. District Court ruled that the government had not proved their claims of unconstitutionality and ordered that DHS process new DACA applicants as well as renewals. The order takes effect in 90 days.

Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference on the Hill today that the ruling "does not supplant the need for legislation."

"We still need a legislative fix for DACA and for the DREAMers. This is a moral issue," he said. "It's also an economic issue for our nation, and although we are appreciative of these lower court decisions, we still believe that the president will continue to use them, as well as other aliens within the United States, as hostages in order for him to build his wall and have draconian measures taken at our border."

"We can not leave this important decision up to the courts," added Vice-Chairwoman Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.). "We should act and provide the legislative certainty with a permanent legislative solution to protect our DREAMers and our DACA recipients, and I -- once again, I will call on Speaker Ryan to stop being an impediment and to allow a bipartisan bill to come to the floor for a vote."

Crowley said there are still enough Republicans on the side of bipartisan fixes to pass one should it come to the floor, and "there's enough enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle."

"The question is whether or not Paul Ryan will open up his heart, as he is now leaving the House of Representatives, to use an opportunity to do the right thing," he added. "Do something that I know Pope Francis most recently spoke about, in terms of how we treat immigrants. He wasn't speaking directly to the United States, but to the world in general. Those who are seeking refuge -- here's an opportunity for Paul to demonstrate an understanding of what the Pope was talking about."

Crowley and Ryan are both Irish-Catholic.

Pope Francis said last September that he hoped Trump would rethink his rescission of DACA.

“I believe that this law comes, I think, not from Congress but from the executive branch of the government,” he said. “If it is so, I have the hope that it’s re-thought, because I heard the president of the United States introduce himself as a ‘pro-life’ man.

“A good pro-lifer,” Francis added, “understands that family is the cradle of life, and that its unity must be defended.”

Crowley said today that "it's cruel to suggest that they go back."

"They are cultural Americans. And economically, they are contributing to the United States, and that's why, I believe, we should act," he said. "And that's why Paul Ryan should act, because it's the right thing to do."

Ryan has indicated on multiple occasions that he's committed to finding a DACA deal but hasn't committed to a clean bill or any other option that wouldn't have White House support.