U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) recommitted this week to force a House vote to protect Dreamers from deportation, if there is no legislative fix by March 5, when the program’s phaseout under Trump is complete.
Coffman told reporters Tuesday he’d revive his so-called discharge petition, which is a parliamentary mechanism for forcing a House vote, after putting it on hold last September at the request of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who did not want Coffman’s effort to coincide with other pro-Dreamer bills.
The bill that Coffman is promising to push after March 5 is called the Bridge Act, which would protect Dreamers who are already enrolled in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It’s a legislative version of what Obama did for the Dreamers and Trump torpedoed. It’s temporary, with limited protections lasting three years.
As such, Coffman wants to extend Obama’s temporary Dreamer-protection program, which Obama put in place after Congress refused to agree on a permanent fix, like the Dream Act.
Trump’s decision to end DACA March 5 could be stopped by federal courts. One ruling has already put Trump’s action on hold, and the Supreme Court decided not to weigh in Monday, instead letting lower courts continue to address the issue.
Coffman is not promising to lead an effort, already underway in the House, to force a vote on the Dream Act, which would not only allow Dreamers to work and avoid deportation but also offer them a pathway to citizenship. It’s a permanent solution.
Last week, Coffman said he would not support the Dream Act because it is “unrealistic,” even though Coffman voted numerous times for Hail-Mary legislation, including Obamacare repeals, that were widely considered unrealistic at the time. Still, he remains a co-sponsor of the Dream Act.
Coffman said in September he’d sign a discharge petition for the Dream Act, and he’s apparently signed the document. Why the legislation is “unrealistic” now isn’t clear.
Ironically, during Obama’s term, Coffman helped kill the bill that’s come closest to solving the Dreamer problem, and that was the comprehensive immigration reform bill, passed by a bipartisan 68-32 Senate vote in 2013. The legislation, which died in the U.S. House, would have protected the Dreamers from deportation and put them on an expedited road to citizenship.
Coffman, along with then U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) both opposed allowing the bipartisan bill, with the Dreamer provisions and much more, to even come up for a vote in the GOP-controlled House. The Denver Post reported that “no Colorado House Republican” supported the bill.
Coffman told The Denver Post he’ll begin collecting signatures to force a vote on the Bridge Act March 5, when DACA expires.
The Post reported Friday:
President Donald Trump last year announced he would end DACA on March 5, putting the pressure on Congress to remove the threat of deportation for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants — more than 15,000 of whom are in Colorado.
Federal courts have ordered the president to continue the protections past that fast-arriving date, but it’s unclear for how long.
“I think people shouldn’t think that this deadline isn’t significant, isn’t real,” Coffman said. “I was in a town meeting on Sunday at a Catholic church in Aurora … and boy the anxiety levels of those young people, of those families over DACA.”