We’re also talking about four other Illinois congressmen: Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, John Shimkus and Darin LaHood.
Our state, where one in seven residents is an immigrant, needs its leaders to stand up for Dreamers, younger undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. The aforementioned Illinois Republicans are notably absent from a push started by moderate members of the GOP to bring four bills to legalize Dreamers to a vote in the House as early as June 25.
Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican from Minnesota, on Wednesday became the 204th House member to sign the petition. Five more Republicans and nine Democrats must sign it to force the bills to the House floor.
Most of America, 74 percent, favors permanent legal status for Dreamers, according to the Pew Research Center. Business leaders who live in the real world also have figured out that America would be better off by legalizing Dreamers.
Prominent Chicago businessman John Rowe, a wealthy GOP donor, has a powerful message for Republicans who won’t sign the petition. Rowe says he’ll reward politicians who sign by donating to their campaigns. He won’t contribute to those who don’t.
“Every member of the Illinois delegation knows this is one of the most important issues facing them and it determines how much money I’m giving them,” Rowe, a leader of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, told Politico. “This is the home state of Abraham Lincoln. We’re betraying our entire heritage if we don’t get this done.”
Silicon Valley executives also want Dreamers legalized, as do the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation. We could go on and on with businesses and groups — and not one of them a bunch of soft-headed, bleeding-heart liberals — who support the legalization of Dreamers.
Roskam said in a statement that he will “make a decision on the right course based on what’s in the best interest of these DREAMers and our nation’s border security. My hope is that Congress will reach a bipartisan agreement to protect children from deportation who were brought to the United States without documentation.”
“Hope,” in this context, is a weasel word. Roskam can do better than “hope.” He can get off the sidelines, help force the issue and pass a bipartisan bill. He and other members of the GOP owe that to Illinois, home to tens of thousands of Dreamers.
Hultgren’s office said in an email that the congressman “supports passing legislation that provides a solution for DACA recipients but believes the nuclear option of a discharge petition will only further entrench both sides and not lead to an agreement.”
We respectfully disagree. We see the process as democratic — the kind of healthy give-and-take now so rare in Washington. It would bring four immigration bills to a vote. The bill with the most votes beyond a 50 percent threshold would pass.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and other House leaders see immigration as an issue that could further fracture Republicans, who don’t agree on the border wall funding that President Donald Trump is demanding. Nor do they agree on possible cuts to legal immigration and whether Dreamers should be put on a path to citizenship.
Trump put Congress on the hot seat with immigration. He ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, that at one time gave nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants temporary legal status. The president told Congress to come up with a solution for Dreamers. The DACA program continues, for now, because of court orders.
In Illinois, there are 36,740 immigrants in DACA, according to the most recent data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
That’s 36,740 reasons for Illinois Republicans to sign the petition and force a vote.
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This editorial has been edited to correct an error. An earlier version mistakenly attributed a comment from Rep. Randy Hultgren’s office to the office of Rep. John Shimkus.