“YES” on Strong DACA Language (H.R. 5272)

Today, the House will vote on an amendment, introduced in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 5272.  The amendment, introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) 88%, would essentially freeze President Obama’s unlawful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by denying the use of any additional federal funds or resources.

When President Obama released his initial request earlier this month, Heritage Action called it “a non-starter because it sought to address the symptoms, not the cause.”  James Carafano, Ph.D., vice president of foreign and defense studies at The Heritage Foundation, said DACA must go:

“The president’s 2012 policy for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, regardless of the Oval Office’s intent, sets a precedent that encourages further unlawful migration, particularly among minors. It leaves those in the program mired in uncertainty as to their future status. It resolves nothing, encourages the problem to grow and is a detriment to establishing fair, consistent and sustainable immigration policy. Dumping DACA, on the other hand, would send a strong and unequivocal signal there is no advantage in rushing to the U.S. to shortcut the line and receive legal authorization to remain here.”

The impact of DACA can be seen in the numbers: In 2011, the last year before DACA was put into place, just 8,000 minors crossed the border illegally. Yet those numbers increased rapidly after DACA, increasing to 24,668 in 2013, and are expected to climb as high as 90,000 this year.  In an interview with TIME, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández criticized “the lack of clarity of U.S. immigration policy.” Congressional action rescinding DACA will create much-needed clarity.

Further, the Associated Press reported on Monday that President Obama is considering a massive expansion of DACA, the “two-year-old directive that granted work permits to certain immigrants brought here illegally as youths.”  Already 580,000 illegal immigrants have taken advantage of DACA, and the moves contemplated by the Obama Administration would open that up to millions more while creating an even larger magnet.

To be clear, Heritage Action would have preferred language to freeze DACA be rolled into the supplemental.  However, it is undeniable that the President’s unilateral actions have become the focus of this debate; indeed, the DACA program has become the linchpin of this debate.  

As Speaker Boehner noted, “The president’s own executive orders have led directly to the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally, they will be allowed to stay.”  As long as that executive order remains in place, so too will the incentive to enter the country illegally.

Heritage Action supports the Blackburn amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Legislative Scorecard
Needham: Obama’s Self-Made Border Crisis
Obama’s Border Request a Non-Starter
Bloomberg: Heritage Action Working on DACA Language