Last week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said it was unlikely that Congress would act on protecting hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as kids before the end of the year. On Tuesday, 33 Republican Representatives and (plus the the non-voting Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico), released a letter calling for action before the end of December.
But if these lawmakers are serious about making that happen, there is an easy way they could do so. A seldom-used procedure, known as a “discharge petition” could bring the Dream Act of 2017 to the floor within days.
When the Trump administration announced in September that it would end DACA, the Obama administration’s executive action that gave undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children temporary deportation relief and work authorization in two-year increments, they gave Congress six months to take action.
That month, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) filed paperwork with the House Clerk to bypass the committee process and the majority leadership and bring the legislation straight to the House floor. As of Tuesday, every Democrat and Reps. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Mark Amodei (R-NV) had signed it, providing 195 of the necessary 217 signatures (Rep. Conyers (D-MI) also signed, but he retired Tuesday morning).
To get the bill to the floor, just 22 more Republicans would have to sign the petition. The bill could then be debated, potentially amended, and passed.
Four House Republicans are co-sponsors of the bill but have not yet added their names to the discharge petition. They are Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and David Valadao (R-CA).
And 27 more signed onto the letter, calling for a “permanent legislative solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients before the end of the year,” noting that these “young people brought to America through no fault of their own” are “contributing members of our communities and our economy.”
They include Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-CA), Mimi Walters (R-CA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Fred Upton (R-MI), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), John Faso (R-NY), John Katko (R-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Charlie Dent (R-PA), GT Thompson (R-PA), Pat Meehan (R-PA), Ryan Costello (R-PA), Will Hurd (R-TX), Mia Love (R-UT), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Scott Taylor (R-VA), and Dave Reichert (R-WA)
One Congressman who signed the letter, Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) has indicated that he does not back the Dream Act as written, but would like to see some sort of DACA fix this year.
If he and his colleagues are serious about this, they need only sign their names.