WASHINGTON D.C. — Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, urged Congress on Thursday to find a legislative solution to the controversial DACA program.
“We need a solution to get 218 House votes, 60 votes in the Senate, or there is no deal,” Newhouse said during a press conference. “No bill is going to be perfect, but inaction is just not acceptable.”
The DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, program is a 2012 executive order signed by former President Barack Obama that enabled certain individuals who entered the country as child and meet a set of guidelines to request consideration of deferred action for two years, which is subject to renewal.
To be DACA-eligible, a person must have been brought into the country before the age of 16 and before June 2007, be enrolled in school, a high school graduate or honorably discharged from the military, be under 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have a serious criminal history.
In September the Trump administration announced its plan to phase out DACA in six months, which gave lawmakers time to find a legislative solution. Members of the House and Senate have been attempting to strike a bipartisan deal before the March 5 deadline. During the press conference Newhouse noted a figure from the Department of Homeland Security indicates that over 22,000 DACA recipients were unable to meet the Oct. 5 deadline to renew their status.
In total, about 800,000 people are covered by DACA nationwide, 18,000 of whom live in Washington. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates 154,000 DACA recipients have DACA permit expiration dates somewhere between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. As a result, Newhouse is pushing for Congress to find a legislative solution to DACA by the end of 2017.
“By winding down DACA President Trump may have intended to give Congress six months to pass legislation, but the reality is that these young people with DACA status are already being harmed today,” he said during the press conference. "Everyday that Congress fails to act, every time that Congress kicks this can down the road, people, real people, are hurt.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson previously advised 15 states and the District of Columbia had filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s ending of DACA. The lawsuit alleges the decision violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and is motivated by discriminatory malice, stemming in part from some of the president’s controversial statements on the campaign trail about Mexican immigrants.
Richard Byrd can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.