It’s refreshing to see Texas Rep. Joe Barton step out from what too often seems to be the GOP’s resistance to the DREAM Act.
The congressman from Arlington this week became the lone Republican from this state to sign on to a bipartisan bill to replace the Obama-era policy and definitively speak up for thousands of undocumented young people brought to this country by their parents as children. He’s also co-sponsor of a bill with Florida GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo that would grant so-called Dreamers legal protections and a path to legal status.
Barton, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, gets what’s at stake with this issue. Other Texas Republicans should follow suit.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and gave Congress six months to develop a legislative solution.
This newspaper has long supported DACA and urged Congress to take up this matter. President Barack Obama’s executive order establishing DACA was the right action by the wrong body, in our eyes. Executive orders are only good for as long as the executive is in office. Trump’s decision to repeal the order makes congressional action all the more urgent.
Without it, too many lives are in limbo.
Texas is one of the states with the most to lose if Congress doesn’t act. With more than 120,000 of the 800,000 DACA recipients, Texas ranks second in the nation in sheer numbers. Most DACA recipients are employed or in school; a criminal record makes you ineligible. So where’s the logic in punishing achievers who are pumping money back into their communities — many of whom didn’t even know they were here illegally?
Barton understands this.
“They’ve been educated here, they’ve grown up here, and in most cases they don’t have family in their country of origin to go back to, so why not take advantage of the investment we’ve made in them and help them become productive adults here in the United States?” Barton told The Dallas Morning News.
And beyond the humanitarian concerns are real economic consequences. The Center for American Progress estimates the Texas economy would lose about $6.1 billion annually if 100,000 workers were deported. They own homes and cars. They pay taxes and sell goods. Many of them are in college.
Texas Democrats uniformly support the DREAM Act, first proposed by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.
They’re hope to force the House to vote with a discharge petition that requires 218 signatures and would move the bill to the floor without prior approval of House leadership. Barton has resisted bucking his party leadership by signing the petition. We hope he’s working behind the scenes on other ways to get GOP leaders to move quickly to extend the act.
There’s a difference in being tough on illegal immigration and targeting law-abiding people who are making contributions — and are in this country due to no fault of their own.
Barton gets that. Now it’s time for other Texas Republicans to do so, too.
What he said
“They’ve been educated here, they’ve grown up here, and in most cases they don’t have family in their country of origin to go back to, so why not take advantage of the investment we’ve made in them and help them become productive adults here in the United States?” — Rep. Joe Barton, R-Arlington
Raise your voice
To find out which lawmakers represent you and how to contact them, go to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx and type in your address. Email forms are available on each lawmaker’s website. Find them at www.house.state.tx.us/members and www.senate.state.tx.us/directory.php