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Republicans Urge Trump to Let Congress Take Lead on DACA

Leaders and rank-and-file members want president to exercise caution

Activists protesting President Donald Trump's immigration policies march in Washington on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Activists protesting President Donald Trump's immigration policies march in Washington on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Even as President Donald Trump readies his announcement on whether he will end Barack Obama’s program that shields from deportation undocumented individuals who came to the United States before their 16th birthday, many Republicans are urging him to let Congress handle it.

Some top White House aides for months have urged Trump to nix deportation relief and work permits for around 800,000 people enrolled in the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. After months of internal West Wing debate, the president is poised to do so.

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Trump will make his announcement about the DACA immigration program on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday. He is “finalizing” his decision, she added.

Asked about some senior congressional Republicans’ calls for Trump to let Congress address those protected by the DACA program, people known as DREAMers, Sanders repeatedly said variations of: “We’re finalizing those details … and this decision.”

Key Republican lawmakers already are speaking out in opposition of Trump ending Obama’s immigration program.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said Friday that he didn’t want the president to do so. “I believe that this is something Congress has to fix,” Ryan said in an interview with WCLO Janesville. “I’ve had plenty of conversations with the White House on this issue.”

The Senate’s longest-tenured Republican, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, who serves as Senate President Pro Tempore and is third in line to the presidency in the line of succession, urged the president to leave DACA alone and let Congress take the lead. 

“I’ve urged the President not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution. Like the President, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here. And that solution must come from Congress,” Hatch said in a statement. 

GOP Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, one of the Hill’s harshest Trump critics, tweeted he thinks “Congress needs to take immediate action to protect #DACA kids.” Trump has praised Flake’s primary foe, and groups close to the president are helping fund her campaign.

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Washington GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse, a DACA supporter who represents an agriculture-heavy district that is among the country’s top producers of apples, has urged members to advocate for the Obama-era program.

At an Appropriations Committee session in July, Newhouse spoke up in support of an amendment offered by California Democrat Pete Aguilar that would have directed the Justice Department to defend DACA against any court challenges.

“I would encourage every member of the committee and the whole House to reach out to this [DACA] community in your district,” Newhouse said. “These are fine, outstanding young people trying to do the right thing to improve our communities and our country… We need more than a one-year solution we need a permanent solution for these individuals.”

Tom Curry and Dean DeChiaro contributed to this report.

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