America has a rich history of immigration, and many who came here in search of a better life have contributed to the greatness of our country. If we want to continue to thrive as a vibrant and diverse nation, then we must fix our broken immigration system to ensure future generations have the same opportunities, improve our economy and strengthen our communities. This includes securing our borders and stopping illegal immigration. The most logical place to start this conversation is with America’s Dreamers.
In December, I signed onto a letter with 33 of my Republican colleagues and sent it to congressional leadership requesting a permanent solution for these individuals in 2017. We were unsuccessful with end-of-year negotiations; however, now that government funding and other must-pass items expire on Jan. 19, we have a fresh opportunity to do the right thing — one that we cannot afford to miss.
Young adults who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program were brought to this country by their parents through no fault of their own. There is no doubt that their parents broke the law, but to my knowledge America has never held children responsible for the crimes of their parents, nor should we. For many in this special group of individuals, America is the only home they know.
We have a real opportunity to find a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers, although the only way it is going to happen is by working together. So Congress must do something that, unfortunately, has become very taboo these days: compromise.
DACA was enacted through an executive order, which was probably unconstitutional. Instead of letting it die in the courts, President Trump rescinded DACA, set a six-month deadline, and asked Congress to find a legislative solution. To do my part, I authored the ENLIST Act and co-sponsored the Recognizing America’s Children Act, the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act and the DREAM Act, and dozens of my Republican colleagues have also expressed their support for legislation that would take care of Dreamers. However, the ball is still in our court and we are running out of time.
I am working with a bipartisan group to find consensus that brings both sides to the table to see if we can protect Dreamers while also increasing some security measures. Whether that’s more border patrol agents or increased surveillance on our border, the goal must be to prevent illegal crossings so we know who is coming into our country.
We must get serious about this if we want to keep Americans safe and crack down on drug and human trafficking across our borders. Finding a bipartisan solution is both the right and responsible thing to do.
Some Democrats do not want to spend another dollar on border security, and some Republicans are disinterested in finding a solution for Dreamers. However, the vast majority of the American people and members of Congress agree that these issues should be addressed, and there is achievable middle ground to do so.
Bipartisan compromise is a good thing for America, and it is clearly the only option for immigration reform. As a Congress, we must come together and provide a pathway for Dreamers and strengthen our borders. I want future generations to see this as a time when America’s leaders put politics aside and acted in a fair, compassionate and responsible manner to protect the people who know no other country to call home.
Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, represents Stanislaus and parts of San Joaquin counties in the U.S. House of Representatives.