Rep. Mike Coffman plans to file a rare petition to force Congress to vote on DACA future

Coffman introduced the Bridge Act in January

DENVER -- U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado, says he plans to file a rare "discharge petition" in Congress on Tuesday to force the House to vote on the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Coffman introduced the bill known as the Bridge Act in January, but the legislation has flown under the radar until now.

"Force Congress to act on it, I think otherwise, like the President, they kind of wanted to avoid making a decision on it," said Coffman.

The Bridge Act provides a three-year extension of the Obama-era program that has given temporary legal status to nearly 800,000 undocumented children, including more than 18,000 so called "Dreamers" in Colorado.

"The members of Congress have a choice: They can let the program be phased out and these young people be subject to deportation, or they can sign this petition for the Bridge Act," said Coffman. "The federal government knows where they are, so if there are deportation proceedings, they could be expedited."

Coffman plans to file the petition on Tuesday afternoon, the same day President Donald Trump is expected to announce plans to end the DACA program with a six-month delay before the program would officially end.

The Bridge Act gives Congress three years to come up with a more permanent solution, and protects Dreamers from deportation during that time.

If more than half of the House signs on, the Bridge Act would go for an immediate vote without the lengthy committee process.

"People know the issue. I don't think it's all that complicated, so I think members of Congress can decide this without significant debate," said Coffman.

Rep. Coffman also said he believes the Dream Act has constitutional problems -- mainly because former President Barack Obama created the program through an executive order in 2012 after attempts to pass a bill via Congress failed.

Coffman pointed to a recent federal court case decision in 2015 that blocked a similar program. He said the court found the executive branch and president of the United States can't make immigration law without Congress.

"The president's in a tough position on this. I think he'd rather let it go and not deal with it, but he believes as I do that it's not constitutional," explained Coffman. 

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