Despite the progress on immigration reform being made in the Senate, this week offered an unfortunate reminder of the uphill battle any legislation faces in the House of Representatives.
During it’s consideration of legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security, the House passed an amendment, authored by Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, to defund the administration’s efforts of prosecutorial discretion. Specifically, it would require DHS to deport young, undocumented immigrants known as “DREAMers.” The amendment also puts at risk anyone who qualifies for prosecutorial discretion under the June 2011 John Morton Memos while in deportation proceedings.
Essentially, this amendment would categorize all undocumented immigrants aside violent criminals who must be deported if encountered by law enforcement, regardless of their circumstances or contributions. Passed mostly on partisan lines with a vote of 224-201, the amendment caused uproar in the chamber as Democrats booed after final count was announced. Outraged by the vote, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement asserting the amendment will not be signed into law.
"As the Senate prepares to debate bipartisan commonsense immigration reform next week, House Republicans chose to spend today passing an extreme amendment to strip protections from 'Dreamers.'" Carney said in a statement. "These are productive members of society who were brought here as young children, grew up in our communities, and became American in every way but on paper.
Not only is King’s amendment a strong contrast with the bipartisan push for commonsense immigration reform happening in the Senate, but it also stands in opposition to the broad public support for overhauling our nation’s broken immigration system. If the Senate is able to pass legislation, House Republican leaders will have to decide whether they are going to listen to the American people or the voices within their own party, such as King, solely focused on punishment instead of compassion.
Ivone Guillen is Immigration Campaigns and Communications Associate at Sojourners.