With the year ending, immigration advocates are raising pressure on Congress to pass legislation to protect DREAMers from deportation. At a major University of Miami forum on Tuesday, one top Miami Republican raised the stakes.
GOP U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami has a bill in Congress called the RAC Act, or Recognizing America’s Children. It would legalize the status of so-called DREAMers - some 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as minors.
Curbelo’s bill is one of several aimed at aiding DREAMers now that President Trump has ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that let them stay here.
The UM forum - "Beyond Politics: A Bipartisan Summit on Immigration Reform" - was hosted by the Immigration Partnership and Coalition Fund, or IMPAC. During the DREAMers panel, Curbelo laid out the urgency of getting some form of legislation passed by year’s end.
“I will not support any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond Dec. 31," he pledged, "unless we get this DACA issue resolved.”
Two other South Florida congresspersons on the panel – Frederica Wilson and Ted Deutch – are Democrats. They insisted DREAMer bills have sufficient bipartisan support in the House.
“If the speaker brought the DREAM Act or the RAC Act or any other fix to the floor tonight when we get back to Washington," Deutch said, "I got news for you: It would pass.”
A number of DREAMers were in the UM audience – including a 29-year-old Miamian, Adrian Escarate, who was brought to the U.S. illegally from Chile at age 3. He’s now Curbelo’s tennis instructor.
"Momentum is building," Escarate told WLRN. "I've got more hope now than I did a few months ago that something is going to pass."
Other speakers at the forum included Miami healthcare billionaire and IMPAC founder Mike Fernandez, Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho and Voto Latino Executive Director Maria Teresa Kumar.