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Pearce proposes compromise on DACA recipients

Rep. Steve Pearce

WASHINGTON – Rep. Steve Pearce, a Republican who represents New Mexico’s border with Mexico, filed legislation late Thursday that would allow the children of parents who came to the U.S. illegally a chance to remain in the country lawfully for 10 years with an option to renew their legal status after a decade.

The move represents a proposed compromise between Democrats who want to grant the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – commonly referred to as Dreamers – permanent legal status in the U.S. and President Donald Trump’s administration, which has announced it would end the Obama-era DACA program on March 5, 2018. Those Dreamers who have not renewed their DACA status would be subject to deportation in March.

An estimated 800,000 young people’s legal status is in limbo.

Pearce is seeking the Republican nomination for governor of New Mexico in 2018. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., who is also running for governor and who is co-chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, supports granting permanent citizenship to “Dreamers” who meet certain criteria. Lujan Grisham told reporters Thursday that she is hopeful that a legislative fix will happen before the end of the year but that she will not support a temporary solution.

Pearce’s bill – HR 4488 – would create a “conditional protected status” for current DACA recipients. The legal status would be active for 10 years, with the option of renewal. The bill would also allow applicants to seek permanent legal status through existing immigration procedures. Pearce said his legislation would not require any work, education or military service to qualify.

“After learning the DACA program would come to an end in just six months, I immediately went to work to develop a solution – one that will provide young immigrants around the nation with even greater certainty so they can continue to work, go to school, and provide for their families with no strings attached,” Pearce said. “The bill I introduced does just that.”

The Republican congressman said the bill would ensure that “those who were brought to the country by no fault of their own can live and thrive in the U.S. without the fear of deportation.”