Utah lawmakers say the right things about Dreamers. But that isn't enough

Friday , September 08, 2017 - 4:30 AM

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

Utah’s federal lawmakers say it is up to Congress to protect the Dreamers.

But every time they tried, they failed.

Thanks to President Donald J. Trump, they’re out of time. Either they pass the DREAM Act, or they shatter the lives 800,000 people.

  • RELATED: “Ogden advocates fear DACA decision will push immigrants back into the shadows”

Congress considered the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act in 2007, but it died in a bipartisan Senate filibuster. Four years later, after passing the House, it again failed to win the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

President Barack Obama implemented DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — in June 2012. In 2013, an immigration bill allowing Dreamers to stay in the United States while they worked or attended school comfortably passed the Senate, but the House refused to vote on it.

Republicans who complained Obama acted illegally had four years to pass a law protecting Dreamers. They did nothing.

But after Trump announced Tuesday he’s ending the policy, they’re suddenly the Dreamers’ biggest defenders.

Take U.S. Rep Chris Stewart, for instance.

“While well intentioned, the way the Obama administration went about enacting DACA was unconstitutional. Authority to alter immigration law clearly only lies within the purview of Congress,” said Stewart, R-2nd District, who took office in 2013.

“Nonetheless,” he said in a news release, “I believe that we must protect those individuals who came to this country as children. I’m a cosponsor of two pieces of legislation that will continue to protect children of undocumented immigrants. These include the BRIDGE Act and the ENLIST Act. These bills bar the removal of individuals who were brought here under the age of 15 that are currently pursuing education, have recently graduated, or are serving in the armed forces. I look forward to Congress authorizing a long-term, legislative solution to this important and pressing problem.”

“A balance between compassion and deterring future illegal immigration can be found,” said Sen. Mike Lee, elected in 2010.

“I agree with the president — we need tougher enforcement of our immigration laws, but we also need a real, permanent solution that recognizes the positive impact dreamers have in our communities. And as I said last week, that solution must come from Congress,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, in office since 1977.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, as usual, said nothing. Bishop, R-1st District, took office in 2003.

Utah lawmakers talk a good game. But now lives are at stake.

They’re part of a Republican majority with a Republican president. If they truly value the lives of Dreamers, they can pass a Dream Act.

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