DREAMERs as well as immigration reform activists and civil rights groups have been swiftly condemning the amendment filed by Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King, which calls for stripping away the Administration’s policy to keep DREAMers from deportation through deferred action (DACA). Rep. King stated the law allows for no distinction between undocumented immigrants, whether they be DREAMers or those convicted of crimes.
“Representative Steve King, an anti-immigrant extremist with a history of attacking our community, is up to his old tricks,” said United We Dream’s Cristina Jimenez. “Now, some House Republicans are making their demands clear—a return to deporting DREAMers!” she added. Pro-reform America’s Voices said the House made a big mistake, consider the public’s support for DREAMERs. “It’s unthinkable,” said Sharry.
The White House weighed in too. “It asks law enforcement to treat these Dreamers the same way as they would violent criminals,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “It’s wrong. It’s not who we are. And it will not become law.”
The amendment passed largely along partisan lines, with Republican legislators voting in favor. Next week in the Senate, Republican John Cornyn will introduce an amendment calling for more stringent border security triggers. This morning, Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions denounced the current immigration reform bill on the Senate floor.
Today DREAMers, immigration reform groups such as the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) are condemning Illinois Republicans for voting for the House amendment, and are calling on Republican Senator Mark Kirk “to show leadership on the issue,” according to organizers. “Republicans are wrong to offer our young brothers and sisters at the Extreme Tea Party altar,” said Chicago DACA recipient Ere Rendon. “We will spend every waking moment and energy mobilizing communities until opponents of reform and family-breaking politicians are finished,” Rendon added. Other groups have been denouncing the latest amendments.
“As our country attempts to move forward, efforts like these only help stagnate progress, ignores our country’s changing demographics (and electorate), continues to divide our nation across party lines, and reminds us of the negative rhetoric that guided the conversations of “self-deportation” and state oversight of federal immigration laws in years prior,” stated Ben Monterroso, Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota. “Efforts like these are not productive for the millions of immigrants who for many years have called this country their home, to the many young and aspiring immigrant professionals who have pledged allegiance under one nation in classrooms and colleges across the nation like all other Americans; who by no fault of their own have documents that do not match those required by this country,” Monterroso added.
Some Republicans like Florida Senator Marco Rubio have said some of the stricter measures called for by Republican legislators, especially on border security, are essential to garner the necessary bipartisan support to pass immigration legislation this year. But others warn that criticism of the current immigration bill will result in Congressional inaction on reform this year. New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez said he hopes “this isn’t’t simply used as an impediment to stop the pathway to legalization from taking place.”
Groups supporting the immigration bill, such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have a full-time team dedicated to supporting the reform bill. “We have run television ads in 8 states, and have moved 13,000 phone calls to members of Congress,” says SEIU’s Eliseo Medina.
As the Senate takes on the bill next week, activists like Medina are optimistic.
“My sense is that we have momentum on our side,” he says. “When I’m looking at the landscape, I like my chances.”