WASHINGTON – Two U.S. House members running for governor of New Mexico in 2018 had different reactions to President Donald Trump’s latest immigration policy announcement, with one calling for a congressional “solution” in a news release and the other blasting Trump’s decision as “cowardly” in a national address.
Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican, last week called on Congress to find a “permanent solution” for 800,000 young Americans whose legal status is in jeopardy after the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program, which has allowed people brought into this country illegally by their parents to apply for a temporary reprieve from deportation as well as qualify for permission to work, attend school and obtain driver’s licenses.
The policy, created in 2012 through an executive order by the Obama administration, will remain in effect for the next six months before it is officially rescinded. When President Barack Obama announced the order, he said it was a “temporary, stopgap measure” and that “precisely because this is temporary, Congress needs to act.”
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, issued the Weekly Democratic Address on Friday and used the platform in part to criticize the president’s decision.
“Unfortunately, President Trump cowardly eliminated protections for these hopeful Americans,” Lujan Grisham said in the address, broadcast on CSPAN and other radio and television stations. “He has once again trapped them in a broken, heartless system and terrified the young Dreamers I met last week.”
So-called Dreamers are the young people (many of whom are now young adults) affected by Trump’s decision to rescind DACA.
Trump has said it is the responsibility of Congress to change the law if those affected are to be allowed to remain in the country legally. Pearce’s office would not say if the Republican congressman agreed with or opposed Trump’s decision to cancel former President Obama’s executive action that created the program.
Last week, Pearce called for a legislative solution that is “fair and just to DACA recipients.” He added that many so-called Dreamers participating in the DACA program, who could eventually be deported unless the law is changed, “know no home other than the United States.”
“Whether you agree with the decision by the Trump administration or not, Congress has the power and the responsibility to provide long-term certainty for Dreamers,” Pearce said in a statement.
“It is Congress’ job to act – not whoever occupies the Oval Office. Since the creation of DACA in 2012, Congress has failed to act on behalf of those who benefit from the program by allowing a temporary solution to be all the certainty these young individuals receive: this is simply wrong,” he added. “We must formulate a permanent solution.”
Lujan Grisham also called for a legislative fix, requesting that Congress pass the Democratic-sponsored Dream Act. Pearce is not a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“This is the civil rights test of our time,” she said. “Are we going to turn our backs on Dreamers? Are we going to allow President Trump to use them as pawns in his cruel efforts to divide America?”
Pearce said he is looking for a legislative fix but has not yet signed onto a bill to address those left in limbo by the cancellation of DACA.
“Whether that’s done by sponsoring my own legislation or working with other members to amend current text, the goal is to find a bill that will solve this problem once and for all,” he said.