Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

GOP Backs Amendment to Deport ‘DREAMers’

The same day Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, published an op-ed in a Spanish-language newspaper amid a larger campaign to broaden the party’s Latino appeal, the House backed an amendment Thursday that Democrats say will both hurt that outreach and prospects for an immigration overhaul.

The amendment to the Homeland Security appropriations bill, authored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, would prohibit implementation of a White House 2012 order protecting from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children, provided they met certain requirements akin to the DREAM Act legislation long sought by the Obama administration. While Republicans pitched the amendment as upholding the rule of law, Democrats and the White House pounced.

“They talk since November about the need to reach out to Latinos and then something as important as this issue, they do a total turnaround,” said Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y. “I know they’re not a dumb bunch so I wonder who advises them on how to deal with the Latino community. …

“I don’t know how they come back from this and go on all the Sunday shows and say, ‘We’re still for a big tent and including everybody.’”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the amendment “runs contrary to our most deeply-held values as Americans. It asks law enforcement to treat these Dreamers the same way as they would violent criminals. It’s wrong. It’s not who we are. And it will not become law.”

GOP lawmakers were concerned about the message the amendment would send to Hispanics, but King, an adamant foe of illegal immigration, pressed ahead.

“Republican committee and leadership staff tried extremely hard to convince Mr. King not to offer the amendment,” a House Appropriations aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said the leader doesn’t want more deportations even though he voted for King’s amendment.

“The Majority Leader is committed to ensuring that children who were brought into this country and know no other home have the opportunity to legally remain in the United States,” said Cantor spokesman Doug Heye. “Simply declaring that the current law won’t be enforced doesn’t achieve this objective or provide the certainty that these children deserve and is incompatible with our system of laws. The focus ought to be on fixing the law.”

The King amendment targeting the “DREAMer” order passed on a vote of 224-201, as Democrats booed and shouted, “Shame!”

Only three Democrats voted “yes”: Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia, John Barrow of Georgia and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. Just six Republicans voted “no”: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Michael G. Grimm of New York, Spencer Bachus of Alabama, and Jeff Denham, Devin Nunes and David Valadeo of California.

Democrats sought to bring attention to the amendment both in advance of the vote and following its passage.

On Thursday morning, the press shop for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelsoi, D-Calif., fired off a backgrounder memo telling reporters it would treat “DREAMers … in the same way as violent criminals.”

But afterward, much of the discussion centered on what the vote said about the Republican Party’s commitment to the Latino community and its overall efforts to woo Latino voters ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections.

“While House Republicans pretend to appeal to Latinos, this vote exposes that it’s all a ruse,” DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement.  “[They] just threw cold water on their so-called courtship of Latinos.”

With urging from the new House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, Republicans have been trying to make inroads with Latino voters. She brought in a Hispanic media outreach coordinator to help boost members’ exposure in the Spanish-speaking community and in general has been encouraging her colleagues to reach out to constituents who are not typically allies of the Republican Party.

“There is a group within that party that has seen the light and understands they can’t survive with 71 percent of one community voting against them,” Serrano said.

McMorris Rodgers voted in favor of the King amendment Thursday, however, with spokeswoman Riva Litman saying only that “the chairwoman’s efforts to engage Hispanics remain stronger than ever.”

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., who is also involved in House bipartisan negotiations on a comprehensive immigration overhaul bill, said he appreciated the behind-the-scenes efforts from GOP leaders to get the amendment withdrawn.

“I was very happy when I heard the pronouncements of Majority Leader Cantor a couple months ago when he spoke about the DREAM Act and the DREAM kids and said they should have a pathway to citizenship and thought it was unfortunate that his leadership and influence couldn’t have been used better here,” he said. “I know many Republican leaders tried to stop the amendment from even being offered.”

“This is the kind of legislative arson Republican leaders used to nip in the bud,” Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member David E. Price, D-N.C., said in a statement. “They now appear powerless, or unwilling, to do so.”

In the end, it may have cost the bill some of the bipartisan support it would have ordinarily enjoyed as one of the least controversial of the annual bunch of appropriations bills.

It also signals a tough road ahead, Gutierrez said.

“I want to build upon things that are positive and moving us in the right direction,” he said, “but the vote shows we have a lot of work to do if we’re going to do immigration reform.”

  • Will Bishop

    What the hell is Eric Cantor playing at, letting this get to the floor? Not deporting people who were brought here as children is just common sense. They didn’t commit any crime. Ridiculous.

    • barbi

      yes but when they turn 18, they accept responsibility for the fact that they are still in the US…. they’re not innocent ‘victims’

      • American

        When all they know is the United States and they have family here what do you expect them to do. Go some place they know to be hostile and poverty ridden or stay where they know. They are as American by that time as any other American.

        • barbi

          The “dreamers” that I know chat regularly with family on the other side of the border via phone and keep in touch with Facebook. I’ve personally been to Mexico and many places in South America and survived. Not every place is going through a civil war like Syria right now. Would it be possible for them to go home? Yes, I think so. They speak the language, and would have family to stay with.

    • Jumpin’ Jack Flash

      “Not deporting people who were brought here as children is just common sense.”

      Perhaps. But common sense dicatates that we should enforce measures designed to prevent individuals from ending-up in this predicament in the first place, i.e., border security.

      • American

        Agreed border security is essential.

  • PJM

    I would favor a change in the law allow illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children to stay in the U.S. and eventually gain citizenship. However, I do not support the President unilaterally deciding that he will not enforce the law that exists for the simple reason that he disagrees with it. This is not about what is the correct policy. This is about the rule of law. As someone who voted for Obama (twice) I am deeply disturbed by the trend of this administration arguing that it is somehow above the law. This “Dreamer” business is another example. I’m not a fan of House Republicans in general. But on this issue they are correct. The law is the law and the President should not be able to choose not to enforce it.

    • American

      Is it really about the rule of law? It seems to me that what the President did was legal. It seems to me that without any cooperation on fixing a system that isn’t working well he did the only thing he could do. jmo

      • PJM

        So any time the Congress refuses to act the President can just issue an Executive Order and change the law himself? Obama is doing exactly what Democrats (rightly) accused Bush of doing — issuing Executive Orders to get around Congress. That is not the way a democracy is supposed to work. The fact that you may agree with the result of this Executive Order doesn’t make the issuance of it proper, or legal. (And what makes this Executive Order process all the more outrageous is that nobody has legal standing to challenge it in court. So the President, in this instance, is above the law. He gets to choose which laws he wants to enforce and nobody — not a citizen, not Congress — can challenge his action in court.) There was no compelling need to act in this circumstance. There was no policy of deporting anyone. Indeed, we don’t deport anyone in this country except criminals. Obama issued this order to pander to Hispanics and, in doing so, violated his oath of office — just as Bush did on numerous occasions. This is an outrage, whether you agree with the policy or not.

        • American

          ” And what makes this Executive Order process all the more outrageous is that nobody has legal standing to challenge it in court”.

          That would be because what President Obama did was legal.

          ” There was no compelling need to act in this circumstance. There was no policy of deporting anyone. Indeed, we don’t deport anyone in this country except criminals.”
          This simply isn’t true. To date Obama has deported more illegals then any other President ever has. All of which weren’t criminals. But even if we were to believe that no one was being deported it still amounts to having an underclass of people much like slaves of the past. That isn’t what America is all about or the Republican party I would hope.

          • PJM

            A. I am not a Republican. I voted for Obama — twice! I am an independent who believes in the rule of law. The president is not above the rule of law, and neither are illegal immigrants.
            B. The fact that nobody has standing to challenge the executive order does NOT make it legal. It just means nobody has the ability to challenge its legality.
            C. There is no “underclass.” The people who came as illegal immigrants live openly. They always have the choice to go home. They CHOOSE not to do so. They chose to violate U.S. immigration laws and now they demand forgiveness for their illegal conduct? Slaves were brought to the U.S. against their will and kept as property. Nobody keeps illegal immigrants here against their will. If their situation is so bad they always have a solution: leave. The fact that they choose not to leave shows that they have it very well here. (I have lived in foreign countries — legally — and can tell you that you cannot even get cable TV in a foreign country without a document showing you are there legally!)

          • jimsepa

            PJM, not sure where you get the notion that no one has legal standing to challenge an executive order in court, but that is not true. In fact, executive orders have been challenged in court and overturned. Congress can also pass laws preventing the order. Challenges are not that frequent though, which is kind of odd considering the scrutiny that executive orders get these days.

  • Dirk Diggler

    The leadership of the House is being held hostage by the Tea Party, nativist caucus. Poor guys and gals…my heart weeps for them as they get spanked in 2014, 2016, etc etc. I can imagine how that “GOP hispanic outreach media manager” felt when the bill passed the house.

  • hanblecheya

    What is truly racists is giving amnesty to illegals at the same time you are telling millions of Asians and Eastern Europeans that you have immigration quotas. At least the Eastern Europeans and Asians don’t come over immediately abusing welfare and dealing drugs. Yeah, we should take in all the over flow from a culture that breeds like flies so they can continue to breed like flies.

  • Lance Sjogren

    I need to check the roll call on this. I was going to send a campaign contribution to my Congresswoman Jaime Herrera. But first I need to make sure she voted yes on the King amendment.

  • Lance Sjogren

    Read my lips: No liberalization of immigration laws so long there is an immigration gun pointed at the heads of the American people.

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