Opinion

No time to waste helping American Dreamers

Karen Caudillo, 21, of Florida is comforted by fellow DACA program beneficiary Jairo Reyes, 25, of Arkansas during a September news conference on Capitol Hill standing up to President Trump's decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative.
Karen Caudillo, 21, of Florida is comforted by fellow DACA program beneficiary Jairo Reyes, 25, of Arkansas during a September news conference on Capitol Hill standing up to President Trump's decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative. AP

The children who crossed our borders are real people, with real stories and real challenges, who are searching for the American dream. They are embedded in our society.

The high school student who has grown up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag each morning.

The young woman working hard to put herself through college, while also helping raise her younger brother because her single mom works two jobs.

Or the 18-year-old boy, fresh out of high school who enlists in the U.S. military to serve and protect the country he’s loved his whole life.

These children are our friends, neighbors, peers, colleagues, spouses, and honored members of the military willing to sacrifice for our freedom.

Our immigration system has failed all of us, and we need comprehensive immigration reform. However, at this time, we must focus on these children.

They need us to resolve the approaching deadline facing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program — or DACA — that has allowed them to live and work in the U.S. without fear.

We must provide an answer to those who have relied on this program. We cannot ignore their stories and fears, nor can we ignore the very ideals of our culture — a culture that celebrates the opportunity to make a better life.

These children were brought to this great country by no fault of their own. Some faced extreme conditions we can only imagine to get here. This wasn’t their decision, but now this is the only country they know.

“United States” may not be printed on their birth certificate, but it is stamped on their heart. We are a caring, compassionate people, and it’s is against the American DNA to punish these young people for a crime they did not commit.

In Congress, I have been fighting for them, and thankfully, I am not alone. Previously I joined several Republican members in sending a letter to congressional leadership expressing the urgency for finding a permanent solution for DACA.

We urged Speaker Paul Ryan to bring legislation to the floor as soon as possible. This is not the first action I have taken on this issue, and until a legislative fix is signed into law, it will not be the last.

Whether it is these letters, floor speeches and public calls for a DACA fix, or the DACA-related bills I have cosponsored, my goal has always been a legislative solution so these children can go back to living, studying and working without fear of being forced to leave the only country they know.

This issue transcends politics. It is about these children, their hope and their opportunity for a better life — a life free from uncertainty.

Our nation’s immigration system is broken and helping these children is just one example of what needs to be fixed. I agree with many of my colleagues that we must also enforce our borders, defend our national security and reform other immigration programs.

But at this exact time, Congress must address the pressing issue before us: finding a permanent solution to the DACA program and supporting the bright future these children deserve.

It is our responsibility to help the high schooler reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the young woman putting herself through college and the young man serving our country. The clock is ticking for them.

Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, has represented Washington’s 8th Congressional District since 2005. To contact him, go online to reichert.house.gov/contact-me or call his Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-7761.

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