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Lujan Grisham seeks DACA fix

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham

SANTA FE – Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico says she is pushing hard to win Republican support for an immigration compromise by the end of the year – legislation that would protect certain young immigrants from deportation and provide a pathway to citizenship.

In a luncheon speech, Lujan Grisham said her role as head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has thrust her into negotiations aimed at responding to the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

The program, created administratively by then-President Obama, allowed people brought into the country illegally by their parents to apply for a temporary reprieve from deportation and permission to work and attend school.

President Trump has said Congress should change the law, not rely on executive action, if it wants to protect immigrants covered by DACA.

Lujan Grisham said Friday that it makes no sense to tear apart families and deport young adults working in public safety, construction and other careers.

Leaders in Washington, D.C., have been “irresponsible for decades,” she said, by failing to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

But “I’m optimistic that we’re closer than we’ve ever been,” said Lujan Grisham, a candidate for governor of New Mexico in next year’s elections.

Whatever is passed will involve some measure of compromise, she said, probably with provisions on border security sought by Republican members of Congress, who hold majorities in both chambers.

“If there’s ever a season for miracles, this is it,” she said.

Her comments came in a speech to an audience of about 60 people gathered at the office of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. The crowd included business leaders, advocates for immigrant rights and others.

Republican Rep. Steve Pearce, also a gubernatorial candidate in New Mexico, has himself called for Congress to find a “permanent solution” that’s “fair and just” for young Americans whose legal status is in jeopardy after Trump’s decision on DACA.