Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a committee hearing on what is being called the KIDS Act, which would give certain young people a pathway to citizenship, similar to the DREAM Act in 2010 that ultimately failed because of a lack of Republican support.
The KIDS Act is being proposed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, two Republicans that voted down the DREAM Act three years ago.
“These children came here through no fault of their own and many of them know no other home than the United States,” Goodlatte said in a statement last week.
Unfortunately, this is too little, too late. Congress had a chance to pass the superior DREAM Act in 2010, but that ship has sailed now. With real, comprehensive immigration reform passing the Senate, that is what the House of Representatives needs to work on. Using our nation’s youth as a political pawn in place of reform is not the answer Americans want.
“If they’re going to talk about doing something for Dreamers that’s short of even what the president did? I mean, come on. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, that’s so yesterday,” Rep. Xavier Becerra of California told reporters last week. “We hope that they’re prepared to join us in today’s world and not talk about the 20th century,” he added.
The comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate would create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, reform the existing legal immigration system as well as bolster border security.
The DREAM Act-lite KIDS Act wouldn’t do anything for the parents of DREAMers or the millions of other aspiring citizens in our communities.
“So much of this sounds like last century’s conversation on immigration,” Becerra said. “And I think for most of us … who believe this is a personal issue on immigration, to be part of any effort to create a second class of Americans, I just can’t swallow that.”
We cannot allow the House to carve up our community, and limit immigration reform to exclude millions of people. This “step forward” is too little and too late.
After killing the DREAM Act in 2010, Republican leaders in 2012 could have endorsed the Deferred Action policy protecting DREAMers from deportation but instead they opposed it and even voted last month to defund it.
The Senate has passed a broad bill that includes a tough but achievable path to citizenship for the vast majority of aspiring citizens, and now the House Republicans need to do the same.
Now is the time to fix our broken immigration system and bring 11 million aspiring Americans out of the shadows so they can contribute to our economy, not play political games with our nation’s youth.