Washington lawmakers struggled for a few years before finally passing a bipartisan state version of the Dream Act in the state Legislature in 2014. This law allowed state financial aid for upstanding immigrant students who had been brought illegally to the U.S. as children by their parents.
Now it is Congress’ turn to pass its version of the Dream Act, in effect creating a way for these young immigrants to avoid deportation and become U.S. citizens.
The pressure for action was increased Tuesday when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said President Trump was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program set up under former President Obama.
DACA has produced good results, not problems. Since 2012 it has let some 800,000 young immigrants remain in the U.S. — at least 17,000 of them in Washington state — while they work or study under renewable permits issued in two-year increments.
In short, DACA is a humane policy that protects children from being punished for the actions of their parents.
Some Republicans who support the goals of DACA have questioned whether the program set up under Obama was done legally. But virtually all of our state’s congressional delegation supports letting these young people stay in the U.S., and federal legislation to give them safe harbor has some bipartisan support in Congress.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson also has plans to file suit to protect those immigrants. And he should.
Rescinding DACA puts the lives of thousands of good young people at risk of upheaval — just to satisfy an extreme wing of the president’s Republican voting coalition.
One silver lining is that Trump’s action leaves an unspecified period to wind down or dismantle the program. We can only hope this window gives enough time for members of Congress to find courage to do the right thing — or for Trump to reconsider.
It is heartening that all four Republican members of Congress from our state, including U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane area, are taking a stand on this issue along with Democratic lawmakers, AG Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee.
Among them, Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert from Auburn teamed up with first-year Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle in January with a proposal to block deportations of young people protected under DACA for three more years — while Congress carries out needed updates to federal immigration law.
There may be other, even better solutions. But this is one starting point for action by a Congress and administration that — when it comes to immigration and too many other issues — looks too much like the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.