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Henry Cisneros and Michael Chertoff: Protect Dreamers, Pass Reform

U.S. News & World Report

Friday, October 6, 2017

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President Donald Trump set off the first opening for immigration legislation of this term when he terminated the Obama-era program that protected immigrants brought to the country as children – the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But he allowed a six-month “wind-down” window, in which he specifically asked Congress to pass legislation that would provide a permanent status for this group, commonly called “Dreamers.”

Congress should not wait six months to address this. The longer they wait, the less chance of actually getting it done, as other “urgencies” take over the legislative calendar. However, there is broad support across both parties for passing a permanent fix for this group. A majority of Americans, and a majority of Trump supporters, also favor this.

The good news: There is a bipartisan deal to be had on DACA. In fact, the president himself seemed to agree to such a deal during a dinner with House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi of California and Chuck Schumer of New York: permanent status for DREAMers in exchange for additional border security. That high-level outline seems like an easy win for the president, Congress and Dreamers. Not only that, but it makes for good policy. But as with everything, the devil is in the details.

Having led several years of back-and-forth discussions and negotiations on recommendations for a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration package as co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Immigration Task Force, we have some unique insights on what those details could be. Such a deal could be supported by a bipartisan majority in both the House and the Senate.