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Members of Congress Determined to Bring a Solution for DACA Through “Discharge Petition”

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

There is a battle in Congress – again – to fight for the passage of a DREAM Act-type legislation that would provide a path to legalization for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

Through op-eds and direct advocacy in Congressional offices, supporters of the young immigrants are raising their voices outside and inside Congress to force a vote in favor of DACA recipients.

In Arizona, David Adame, Chicanos por la Causa President and CEO, and Glenn Hamer, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO, wrote a joint op-ed stressing the need for DACA-DREAMers to be legally incorporated to our country and highlighting their contributions to the economy and the state.

Note: I currently serve as Chicanos por la Causa Board of Directors Chair. 

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who was also a Republican House member from 1983 to 2001, is the latest leader to express support for DACA-DREAMers through an article published by USA Today.

Many lawmakers in Congress are pushing a legislative maneuver called a “discharge petition.” This is the act of bringing a bill out of committee and to the floor for consideration without a report from the committee by “discharging” the committee from further consideration.

With this move, members of Congress who support the DREAMers can bypass Speaker of the House Paul Ryan or other leaders in the House who refuse to put the bill for a vote.

But to make this move, a critical mass has to be gathered.

Reps. Will Hurd of Texas, Jeff Denham of California, and Carlos Curbelo of Florida are leading efforts to get the majority of House members to agree to a discharge petition. The Congressmen want to introduce four different immigration proposals to the House floor as early as June 25, among them a DREAM-Act type legislation.

DACA-DREAMer supporters are visiting Congressional offices one by one, adding Congress members to the list of discharge petition supporters.

Five days ago, this was the tally of lawmakers who have signed the discharge petition.

Discharge petitions usually challenge a leader’s legislative stonewalling. In this case, that leader is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who has been blocking a permanent solution for DREAMers. Ryan is now having a hard time. He’s been following the lead of President Trump, who has been teasing the country with contradictory statements on DACA while he sabotages possible agreements.

Ryan expressed his disagreement with Congress members’ effort to implement a discharge petition, describing it as “a big mistake.”

In the meantime, supporters are trying to gather 218 favorable votes for a discharge petition.

Among the four proposals that would be considered if this petition is attained are bills that authorize the construction of the border wall and allow DACA recipients to get a three-year renewable nonimmigrant status. Two other bills would give DACA-DREAMers an opportunity to access a path to legalization. One of these two includes increased border security.

Still, reaching the 218 vote-threshold necessary to enact the discharge petition does not guarantee that lawmakers would vote for any of these proposals. The path to a DREAM Act-type legislation is full of perils.

However, as the Mexican goes: “No hay peor lucha que la que no se hace” (essentially, there is no worse fight than the one that isn’t fought). DACA-DREAMers and their advocates need to fight over and over, in every single opportunity, until the day our country gives justice to young immigrants and their families.