Republicans Could Protect Dreamers If They Wanted To. But Will They?

WASHINGTON ― Republican lawmakers who have said they sympathize with young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children will now get the chance to prove it.

President Donald Trump has decided to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, with a six-month delay on enforcement, Politico and Reuters reported on Sunday evening. An official announcement is expected on Tuesday with further details.

Ending the program would mean nearly 800,000 so-called “Dreamers” who have been in the U.S. since they were children would eventually lose two-year work permits and be at risk for deportation.

Trump’s decision puts Republicans in a bind. Many of them have said they think something should be done to help Dreamers, and some pro-immigration-reform Republicans have joined Democrats to push for legislation. But most Republicans ― including party leaders in the House and Senate ― have repeatedly voted to block legislation that would allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wouldn’t even allow a vote on a broader immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013.

He and other GOP members now say they’re ready for legislation ― the question will be whether they’re willing to break from the past and work with Democrats to make it happen.

Ryan said on Friday that he had urged Trump not to end DACA because he believed Congress should pass a bill to protect Dreamers.

“There are people in limbo,” Ryan said on the radio station WCLO in Janesville, Wisconsin. “These are kids that know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home, and so I really do believe there needs to be a legislative solution, that’s one that we’re working on.”

Others similarly urged Trump not to end the program, which he is expected to announce Tuesday ― the deadline set for him by 10 state attorneys general who threatened legal action if he did not terminate DACA by that date.

On Friday, one of those attorneys general, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery (R), announced he would not take part in a legal challenge to DACA as promised and called for legislation on Dreamers. Slatery encouraged senators to support the Dream Act, a bill that would provide a path to legal status for undocumented young people who came to the country as children, or legislation like it.

The Dream Act currently has bipartisan sponsors in both the House and Senate,…

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