Democrats are advocating for the passage of a long-proposed immigration bill as President Donald Trump pushes to tie a border wall to deportation relief for young immigrants.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats are confident the Dream Act would pass if Republican leaders brought it up for a vote. The Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for certain young immigrants living in the country illegally, was first introduced almost two decades ago.
“Now the question is, what do they want to do on the border,” Pelosi said. “We have a responsibility to protect our borders, but not to the extent of the so-called principles, the un-principles, that they put out before us. Outrageous. So where do we find our common ground, we’ll see. But if you want to protect the Dreamers, you don’t draw a line in the sand with the proposals that they made.”
Trump has said he wants a border wall included in any immigration deal that lawmakers reach as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program ends, impacting about 800,000 participants. Trump decided to sunset the program, telling Congress to come up with a permanent solution.
Pelosi and Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., spoke to reporters after a roundtable with University Medical Center officials on Tuesday. Kihuen stressed the difference between border protection, which was part of comprehensive immigration reform that failed in 2013, and a border wall, which Pelosi said Democrats have never supported.
Kihuen said border protection would include investments in technology and personnel, not a costly and ineffective wall that stretches along the entire border.
“If (Trump) really, genuinely cares about the Dreamers as he has said in the past that he does, then he will not use them as a bargaining chip and he will get his own party to come on board with the Dream Act,” Kihuen said.
There are five Republicans signed onto the House version of the Dream Act, which has a total of 200 co-sponsors.
“We need a few more ― actually we need a lot more to get it passed,” Kihuen said of Republican support.
Kihuen said that after years of Republicans not bringing the Dream Act up for a vote, Trump refusing to renew DACA could force the issue forward.
“As of right now, this year, we are focused on passing the Dream Act,” Kihuen said. “That is going to be our priority.”