WASHINGTON, D.C. – Immigration reform was revealed as the most pressing concern of 1st Congressional District residents who participated in a town hall meeting via telephone Tuesday with U.S. Rep. Blake Moore.
“There are a lot of conversations going on in Washington right now about (young people affected by) the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issue,” the freshman Republican congressman said. “I want to be part of those discussions.”
Under a memorandum issued by former President Barak Obama in 2012, DACA is an immigration policy that protected some illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation. Those individuals were eligible to receive renewable two-year deportation deferrals and work permits.
Over the years, DACA has become a political football in the midst of larger battles between Republicans and Democrats over issues of border security and immigration reform.
In 2017, former President Donald Trump announced that he planned to rescind DACA. Although that move was eventually blocked by a federal court ruling, the future of nearly 650,000 DACA recipients has been in doubt since then.
“DACA is one piece of the immigration puzzle where we have an opportunity for progress now,” Moore argues. “Since we have such narrow margins (between Republicans and Democrats) in both the House and Senate now, I urge President (Joe) Biden to recognize that DACA is one issue on which we can all come together.”
But the Biden administration has already launched a unilateral offensive on immigration policy.
The White House recently announced an extension of the DACA policy. Biden is also pushing legislation aimed at providing a path to citizenship for nearly 11 million illegal immigrants and the creation of a task force to reunite families separated at the southern border with Mexico during the Trump years.
Because those initiatives will face strong opposition both in Congress and the courts, Moore believes there’s a better way to implement immigration reform.
“If you look at our immigration policy as a whole, it’s just not working for America,” he says. “Our immigration policy hasn’t worked under Republican presidents and it hasn’t worked under Democratic presidents. We just keep kicking this can down the road and Congress traditionally doesn’t work well together.
“But, if you can take any contentious issue – and immigration has certainly been one – and work from the middle to resolve it, progress is possible. If we put DACA in the middle of that policy discussion, we can get a lot of people to the table. We’re not going to agree on everything as those discussions expand out about approaches and fixes, but we could have a quick win (on DACA).”
While admitting that idea is aspirational and “a little unrealistic,” Moore says he’s nonetheless bullish on finding a DACA solution and that some of his colleagues, especially those among the freshmen class of the 117th Congress, share that vision.
Moore hasn’t entirely forgotten that he’s a Republican, however.
“First we have to address border security, of course,” he acknowledges. “If we try to fix our immigration policy prior to doing that, we’re only contributing to the problem.”
Although any progress on Trump’s controversial border wall is unlikely during a Biden administration, Moore believes that technology could still provide improved border security in the future.