- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Democratic leaders on Wednesday demanded Republicans schedule an immediate vote on the Dream Act to grant young adult illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, saying they don’t want the debate complicated by any other matters.

“We’re ready to pass it. I’m confident that if put on the floor it will garner overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

He said if a bill isn’t approved this month, Democrats will begin to try to force it into debates on other issues.

Democrats said they want a “clean” Dream Act, meaning a bill that only deals with perhaps 2 million illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who have worked toward a high school education and have kept a relatively clean criminal record. A current version of the Dream Act calls for immediate protections from deportation, coupled with a longer-term pathway to citizenship.

But Republicans said they’ll insist on coupling legalization with stiffer security measures to try to head off another wave of illegal immigration.

“This is a dilemma that in large part stems from the fact that it is a symptom of a larger problem,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. “It’s only reasonable and fitting that we also address the root cause of the problem, which is borders that are not sufficiently controlled.”

He said Congress won’t pass a bill that doesn’t have the support of President Trump. The White House signaled on Tuesdaythat the president will at least seek funding for his border wall as part of any deal on legalizing Dreamers, as the young adult illegal immigrants named themselves.

Democrats have said they won’t entertain those sorts of add-ons, saying it would turn Dreamers in “bargaining chips.”

Both Mr. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blasted Mr. Trump for moving Tuesday to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, policy that President Obama announced in 2012, granting a tentative deportation amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.

Mrs. Pelosi called it “a despicable act of political cowardice.”

Democrats also blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who made the announcement canceling DACA, saying the program was likely to be found illegal by the courts, so phasing it out was the humane option. Otherwise, Republicans said, a judge could have ended it precipitously, leaving Congress no time to act.

Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who has pushed for the Dream Act for more than a decade, said he detected glee in Mr. Sessions’ move to cancel DACA.

“There was a smile on his face and for those of us who have followed his career in the Senate it was no surprise. He has never, never, supported the Dreamers,” Mr. Durbin said.

Democrats had urged Mr. Trump to defend the program despite the serious legal questions and a looming deadline imposed by Texas. Some immigrant-rights activists and Democratic state leaders have vowed to fight Mr. Trump’s decision in court.

“The president’s decision to end DACA was heartless and it was brainless,” Mr. Schumer said. “If this order stands, hundreds, hundreds of thousands of families will be ripped apart. Tens of thousands of American businesses will lose hardworking employees. We’re talking about folks who have been brought here as children through not fault of their own.”

Democrats said the Dream Act has bipartisan support. Mr. Durbin has worked for years with Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, on the bill. And Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Corey Gardner of Colorado have already agreed to support the bill.

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