Coffman, Bennet urge immediate new protections for DACA recipients

DENVER – Two Colorado members of Congress on Tuesday renewed their urgent pleas for the House and Senate to quickly pass a measure to extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protections.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., along with 33 other Republican House members sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan asking him to pass new DACA legislation by the end of the year, and urged him to reach out to Democrats to help a measure pass.

President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in early September that DACA would be rescinded.

“While we firmly believe Congress must work to address other issues within our broken immigration system, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and not wait until next year,” the letter said. It went on to say, “Reaching across the aisle to protect DACA recipients before the holidays is the right thing to do.”

The GOP members of Congress also took a softer stance on DACA recipients than some in the party have in recent months.

“DACA recipients – young people brought to America through no fault of their own – are contributing members of our communities and our economy. For many, this is the only country they have ever known. They are American in every way except their immigration status,” the letter said.

But the members of Congress also said they believed President Trump was correct in determining that President Obama’s implementation of the plan through executive order was an overstepping of his bounds. That said, they wrote, Congress needs to bear the responsibility to engrain DACA into law.

“Not acting is creating understandable uncertainty and anxiety amongst immigrant communities,” the letter to Ryan said.

Coffman had previously tried to force a vote on his Bridge Act, which would extend DACA protections for eligible undocumented immigrants for three years. But the discharge petition filed with Ryan was quickly pulled days later.

On the Senate side, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn said Tuesday they were pushing forward with their own legislation to address DACA, though it would reportedly also go after federal funding for so-called “sanctuary cities.”

That angered Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., who has for years pushed for Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would make DACA law.

“Cornyn-Grassley is not a serious proposal to protect the hundreds of thousands of #Dreamers who are in danger of losing their status if Congress fails to act. I will continue working toward a bipartisan solution to pass the #DreamAct before the end of the year,” Bennet tweeted.

He also noted that he and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., received a letter Tuesday from 50 current and former Colorado mayors, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, urging Congress to pass the Dream Act. Bennet wrote: “A serious solution would be responsive to local leaders around the country who have called for the #DreamAct.”

In September, Gardner signed on to cosponsor the Dream Act along with Bennet in what was a departure from some of his previous beliefs on DACA and illegal immigration. Bennet was part of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who passed an immigration reform bill out of the Senate in 2013, but the House, which Gardner was a member of at the time, never considered their measure.

“Children who came to this country without documentation, through no fault of their own, must have the opportunity to remain here lawfully,” Gardner said in September when he announced he’d cosponsor the Dream Act. “I’m proud to join with Senator Bennet and cosponsor the Dream Act to provide certainty to the thousands of law-abiding Coloradan Dreamers and demonstrate bipartisan leadership on this important issue.

It’s unclear if the House and Senate will try to get DACA protections worked into several budget measures expected to keep the government running through December or if Ryan or McConnell will allow the measures to be brought forward on their own.

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