California Republican Calls for National Immigration Reform Movement

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) speaks during a news conference with military 'DREAMers', undocumented youth who aspire to serve the United States in uniform but are prohibited from doing due to their immigration status, in front of the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

California Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) said that he supports legislation that would offer a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA recipients. He announced his support following President Trump’s announcement that he was cancelling the Obama-era executive order that gave work permits and deportation protection to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

“I think it’s important that we make this a movement beyond California,” Denham said, calling for bipartisan unity in order to achieve immigration reform. “It needs to be all 50 states coming together.”

In an interview with KQED Newsroom, Denham called for broad immigration reform, including a guest worker program and improvements to the visa system. But he said the most urgent issue was protecting so-called “Dreamers,” whose undocumented status is not their fault, but the responsibility of their parents who made the decision to come to the country illegally.

“We’ve never held kids accountable for laws that have been broken by their parents,” he insisted. “I believe that we’ve got to get this done. We’ve got to get it done now.”

Denham added that he was confident that legislators could approve the reforms quickly, even as soon as the next several days.

Denham, an Air Force veteran, is the author of the ENLIST Bill, which would offer a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers who volunteer for the U.S. military. His proposed legislation, which he claims has wide bipartisan support in the House, is one of a handful of immigration reform bills being considered in the House or Senate.

He told KQED that if the Republican-controlled Congress fails to pass some type of reform, the party could face consequences in the upcoming midterm elections.

“I think that there will be a backlash against Republicans if we don’t get our job done,” he predicted.

A former member of the California state Legislature, Denham hasn’t always shown support for undocumented childhood arrivals. While serving as a state senator, he voted against a bill that would have made undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children eligible for scholarships to state colleges.

He defended his voting record, saying that responsibility for immigration reform lies at the federal level — now that he’s a member of the national government, he considers immigration reform an obligation.

“While it’s a big, important issue in my district [and] it’s a big issue for California, this is a national issue that all states should be involved in,” he explained.

California Republican Calls for National Immigration Reform Movement 8 September,2017Bert Johnson

  • Dina DiBenedetto Oskiera

    Thank you Rep Jeff Denham for speaking with a compassionate voice of reason.

  • jskdn

    There’s an organization with “immigration reform” in it’s name: the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Of course their idea of “reform” is nothing like that of Jeff Denham or likely the reporters here who use the term without quotes. The use of the term “reform,” by its dictionary definition, implies a conclusion. While advocates naturally believe what they want is reform, actual journalists shouldn’t use the term with attribution. CQ Rollcall recognizes this and actually has it as a policy.

    By the way, there was an official government U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and its recommendation were much more aligned with one of the competing ideas of what reform would be between Denham and FAIR.

    Denham’s position isn’t really news, nor are those similar held by many Republicans: John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, etc. These people have a history of trying to reward illegal immigration and promote mass immigration for cheap labor and demand for the goods and services sold and held by the donor class.

    • Kurt thialfad

      Yes, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform was formed in the 1990’s under the Clinton administration and chaired by Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. It recommended making reductions in US immigrations. Alas, the results were suppressed.

    • jurgispilis

      The RAISE Act deserves Jeff’s support.

  • Skip Conrad

    Obama-era executive order?
    There was no EO. if there was, it would have a number. Obama instead chose to use executive action, which has even less validity. The legality of DACA is very much in doubt.

    If it indeed involved children who entered with their parents, that would e one thing. But it doesn’t. It includes children who were smuggled in to the US by persons other than their parents. It includes children to whom parents paid smugglers to transport them into the US. Obama was essentially giving a green light to human traffickers. We must fight human trafficking, not cooperate with it, and not encourage it.

    Shame on you, Barack.

  • jurgispilis

    There already is a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA recipients. We don’t need another one.

    And we don’t need a mercenary army. That’s not what we’re about.

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