Last week, a group of House Democrats, let by Rep. Raul Grijalva, issued a letter to President Obama calling for a suspension to deportations and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include “all those who would be potential citizens under immigration reform.”
In the letter, the lawmakers argue that suspending deportation and expanding deferred action to allow the undocumented who would qualify for citizenship under reform “is the best way to advance the path to citizenship for undocumented individuals across the country.”
Last year, President Obama launched DACA for DREAMers, children who were brought to the United States as children and have gone to school, college, or joined the military. So far, 500,000 Dreamers have had their legal status normalized under the program, and lawmakers want to expand that program to other undocumented immigrants.
Among the House Democrats signing on to the letter are Reps. Luis Gutiérrez, John Lewis, Charlie Rangel and Grace Napolitano.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice said, “It makes no sense to deport people who would qualify for legal status under pending immigration legislation. Every day House Republican leaders don’t act to move immigration reform forward is another day that families are ripped apart, workers are exploited, migrants die in the desert and 1,100 people are deported. Most of the people who are being deported today would qualify for legal status under the provisions of the Senate bill that passed in June or the bipartisan HR15 House bill that has over 190 co-sponsors. The letter signers are right to focus attention on reforms President Obama could achieve while keeping the heat on House Republicans to provide a permanent legislative fix.”
While it’s important to continue pushing for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, it’s also important that we have policy in place that keeps families together and ends the senseless deportations that tear more than a thousand families apart every day.
Said Rep. Gutiérrez, “I have already heard from reporters: ‘Hey, Gutiérrez, does this mean immigration reform in Congress is dead?’ My answer is ‘No.’ We must fight for immigration reform and fight to stop the deportation of those we want to legalize at the same time, which is what I have been doing for the past five years.”