A handful of House Republicans led by Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) are attempting a long shot bid to force a vote on a DACA bill. The long shot is that they are using a seldom used House action to discharge a bill from committee. Curbelo filed the discharge petition and now they need to get at least 218 House signatories. That would mean if all Democrats sign the petition they need 25 Republicans. As of Thursday (the last day in session—being in session a condition of signing up) there were 18 Republicans who had signed the petition.

One of CWLA’s key talking points from the recent Hill Day visits (Protect the Dreamers) is to get Congress to act on DREAMERS legislation. The Dreamers Act or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act of 2017 would grant DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) beneficiaries permanent resident status on a conditional basis. Conditions include passing a background check and medical exam, entering the United States before the age of 18, and having been continuously present in the United States since at least four years before enactment. Dreamers must also meet educational requirements, including having been admitted to a college, university, or other institution of higher learning; having earned a high school diploma or general education development (GED) certificate; or currently being enrolled in a secondary education program to obtain a high school diploma or GED certificate. Dreamers cannot have been convicted of criminal offenses.

There are several hurdles the House members must overcome to be successful in a discharge petition. Now that the petition is filed, members have to sign in person and the House must be in session. Once a bill reaches the 218, it has to wait for 7 legislative days and then can only be voted on the second and fourth Mondays of the month when the House is in session. That means under the current schedule the only opportunity will be Monday June 25th and Monday July 23rd. There would also have to be the 218 signatures by at least June 11th or July 23rd.

Some advocates have mixed feeling about this latest effort. One more complexity is that a DREAMERS bill will be considered along with potentially three other bills, the last being something that would be crafted by the House Speaker. The two or more competing bills would all be voted on with the one that gets the most votes being sent over to the Senate.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are both opposing the discharge effort with Ryan indicating anything he brings up will have to have the President’s support. He indicated that he wants to have a vote later this year but that has been his position in the past and is not dissimilar to previous commitments by his predecessor Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

A group of young people, as part of United We Dream, inspired a CWLA crowd at the Thursday plenary during the CWLA National Conference. Sanaa Abrar, Policy Director for United We Dream was joined on the panel by Claudia Quinonez, Gerson Quinteros, Ambar Pinto, and Aurea Galvin, all DACA eligible young people. In addition to their education, they serve as advocates and coordinators to assist other DACA eligible young people.

Almost nine million young children under the age of 8 live in a family of immigrants with one or more members who are foreign-born. Young children in these families, a growing segment of children in the United States, comprise 26% of all children under age 8.

The courts have directed the Administration to come up with a response within the next three months and to explain why the Court should not fully re-impose DACA as established by President Barrack Obama in 2012.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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