Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) no longer supports a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that would offer a path to citizenship for dreamers, just a few months after she called on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to move forward with the bill, saying, “It would be wrong to go back on our word.”
Last week, McSally asked the House of Representatives for unanimous consent to formally drop her co-sponsorship of a bill known as the Recognizing America’s Children Act. Instead, she wants to support a stricter bill, the Security America’s Future Act, which would allow Dreamers to apply for “contingent non-immigrant status” — but not citizenship — as well as eliminating the diversity visa program, cutting legal immigration, and implementing stricter border security measures.
McSally’s move to drop her support for the Recognizing America’s Children Bill comes just months after McSally led a group of lawmakers in writing a letter to Ryan, calling on the speaker to address the future of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children that make up the DACA population.
In a release from September of last year, McSally highlighted one line in particular from the letter: “It would be wrong to go back on our word.”
In the letter, McSally highlights the fact that since being approved for DACA status, an “overwhelming majority” of Dreamers have enrolled in school or found work in the U.S., including serving in the military.
“We did not support the way that President Obama established this program and usurped Congressional law making authority,” the letter says. “However, these individuals have come forward and provided the federal government with their personal information and biometrics. It would be wrong to go back on our word and subject these individuals to deportation.”
The letter concludes with a call for Ryan to move forward with the bill because, because, as McSally puts it, “These individuals’ status in the United States should not be left to the political winds of different administrations that come to power.”
McSally’s spokesperson, Kelly Schibi, said in a statement that McSally’s decision to drop her support for the bill that would offer a path to citizenship was a “clarification.”
“With a potential vote coming up on several bills related to this issue, Congresswoman McSally wanted to clarify which legislative solution she backs wholeheartedly,” Schibi said. “Congresswoman McSally is a lead author and champion of the Securing America’s Future Act, a border security bill that fully funds the wall, cracks down on sanctuary cities and criminal illegal gangs, and addresses the DACA population. The Congresswoman’s bill is the only bill in the House that President Trump and Secretary Nielsen support.”
The decision to support the Securing America’s Future Act comes as McSally is running to replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is retiring. McSally is locked in a tough primary with former State Senator Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is best known for running a jail he called a “concentration camp” in which he tortured hundreds of immigrants and minorities.
Both Ward and Arpaio have made their hard-right immigration views central to their campaigns and, throughout the tough primary, McSally has tacked right on a number of issues and embraced Trump.
McSally’s primary rivals both criticized her immigration shift. Eric Beach, Ward’s lead strategist, told The Arizona Republic he thought McSally was facing a political “identity crisis,” adding that he “think[s] she’s being exposed.”
Arpaio’s campaign manager echoed the sentiment in a statement to the Republic.
“It’s no shock that McSally has been changing positions on key policy issues since she decided to run for higher office,” he said. “But for her to flip-flop so late in the game is just embarrassing.”