A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers led by Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., introduced a bill, titled the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act, late Jan. 16 that offers a permanent legislative solution to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, often referred to as “dreamers,” as well as increased border security.
Hurd and Aguilar were joined by six other members of Congress from both parties in a same-day press conference on the bill, which received 50 total bipartisan cosponsors.
Hurd characterized the bill as a solution that specifically addresses the imminent concerns for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and issues with border security, while also appealing to both parties in Congress.
“Many of us believe that a narrow, bipartisan approach is ultimately the way to solve this problem,” said Hurd.
“The president said to bring him a bill and he’ll sign it. This is that bill,” said Aguilar, referring to comments Donald Trump made on Jan. 9, 2018, that he would sign whatever bill arrives at his desk.
The bill has many components of Hurd’s Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act, introduced in July, that focuses on improving technology at the border, such as sensors, drones and other detection devices.
“This bill also offers a permanent, legislative solution to young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children while achieving operational control of our border with enhanced technology, manpower and physical barriers. It also reduces the immigration backlog that leaves families in limbo, and it addresses some of the root causes of unlawful immigration by increasing support to Central America.”
According to Hurd, the bill has yet to receive approval from congressional leadership.
Though the congressmen in attendance could not confirm whether the USAact would be able to pass by the Jan. 19, 2018, deadline for Congress to pass an appropriations or continuing resolution bill, many were optimistic that the bipartisan support the bill has received will go a long way to pushing the bill forward.
“We’ve got 80 hours. We think we should get to work,” said Aguliar.
“We’re motivated to get it done by the end of the week,” said Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., who added that it is still the Democratic caucus’s strategy to vote “no” on a continuing resolution that does not include a DACA provision.
The bill does not include provisions for the parents of DACA recipients to achieve legal status and does not fund a full, physical border wall as Trump advocated for on the campaign trail.
“It’s a compromise that offers a realistic and human solution,” said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Ca., adding that the “border will be reinforced with practical and advanced technology.”
Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.