House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is urging Republican members of Congress to vote against the Dream Act, which he warned would worsen the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. Southern border by attracting more illegal arrivals.
Introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Il.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in February, the Dream Act aims to create a pathway to lawful permanent residence and eventually, naturalized citizenship, for more than 700,000 so-called “Dreamers,” who were illegally brought into the United States as children and shielded from deportation under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Scalise opposed the measure, reminding his Republican colleagues in a memo sent ahead of the House vote that they should not be providing “amnesty” to illegal immigrants.
“By failing to include enforcement provisions to deal with the tide of illegal immigration or provisions to address the humanitarian crisis at the border, the bill would only worsen the flow of illegal immigrants to the U.S.,” the memo reads, reported the Associated Press.
The House was set to vote Thursday on two immigration bills: the Dreamer Act, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act that would create a system for illegal immigrants working in agriculture to get a green card.
House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) expressed hope that the Democrat-backed immigration bills would get some Republican support.
“Seven Republicans supported this in the last Congress. I hope more will do so in this Congress,” Hoyer said, noting that seven Republicans voted for the Dream Act in 2019, which failed to pass the Senate.
The House also passed the farm worker bill in 2019, with 34 Republicans voting in favor. The bill also died in the Senate that year.
“Between 75 percent and 85 percent of the American people think it makes no sense to send the Dreamers … to a country that they don’t know,” Hoyer said, reported Fox News. “This is their country.”
The House vote on immigration bills comes after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas disclosed that the U.S.–Mexico border is facing the worst illegal immigration surge in 20 years.
Mayorkas, who has refused to describe the situation at the border a “crisis,” said on Tuesday in a statement that the nation is “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
“In more than 80 percent of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40 percent of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian. These are children being reunited with their families who will care for them,” he said.