U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., and Will Hurd, R-Texas, have joined several "Dreamer" advocacy groups in urging a bipartisan solution for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

The groups were LIBRE, Americans for Prosperity, National Immigration Forum, FWD.US and Dreamers.

Newhouse said DACA recipients are a “huge asset” to the country and that more than one-third of the 17,000 in Washington state are in his 4th Congressional District.

“I have met with many of them and know firsthand ... that they truly have a tremendous amount to offer our country and they want to be able to do that,” Newhouse said at a press conference with Hurd and the groups on Feb. 13.

A DACA solution should be part of current budget negotiations, Newhouse said.

“Thank you for sticking your necks out and being at the forefront of this struggle. I think we are almost there, but with your help we will get there,” Newhouse said.

DACA is a two-year renewable deferral of deportation with work authorization granted to children of illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. under 15 years of age. It was granted by executive order by President Barack Obama in 2012 and was widely viewed as unconstitutional.

In November 2014, Obama expanded DACA to more people and to their parents by executive order that was struck down in courts and rescinded by President Donald Trump in June of 2017. That September, Trump announced plans to phase out the original program effective in March 2018. Congress tried but failed to address the program.

Federal courts put the phase out on hold and ordered DACA renewals to continue. On Aug. 31, 2018, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanan ruled DACA is likely unconstitutional but allowed the program to continue while litigation proceeds.

Several times Trump has offered a DACA solution in exchange for more funding for a U.S-Mexican border wall. Those efforts have been rebuffed by Democrats.

Less than 2 percent of the nation’s approximately 795,000 DACA recipients work in agriculture, forest and fisheries industries, the Agricultural Workforce Coalition has said. A Washington state immigration attorney also has said the number is low.

Central Washington field reporter

Recommended for you