How months of inaction led 20 Republicans to take a stand on immigration
Before they were “dreamers,” they were just neighbors to California Republican Rep. Jeff Denham.
They played basketball with his kids. They were the pride of the immigrant families upon which the Central Valley's agricultural economy relies. And now, under threat of deportation, young undocumented immigrants want answers from Denham — even at his son's recent birthday party.
“One of his friends, a fraternity brother, came to me and said, ‘What are you doing on this issue?' ” he recalled.
Denham and nearly two dozen of his fellow Republican lawmakers have joined to do something about it, spurred by pressure back home and frustrated by the GOP leadership's lack of action on a heated issue that has long stymied the party. They could represent the best chance that dreamers — beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — now have to secure legal protections under President Trump.
They are pitted against the conservatives who dominate the Republican rank and file and have campaigned against “amnesty” for people who are in the country illegally. The conservatives take their cues on the issue from a president who has angrily demanded a crackdown at the border but has also promised at times to solve the dreamers' dilemma once and for all.
“We've had it,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who has joined Denham and the others pressing for a bill. “We're boiling over. It's got to get done.”
By undertaking a rare maneuver to force consideration of legislation over the objections of the Republican leadership, this group has rekindled a sputtering immigration debate in Congress and raised the possibility that a bipartisan compromise could emerge from the deeply divided House, giving Trump what could be his only opportunity to sign an immigration bill into law this year. Read more
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