Vulnerable Republicans dismiss voters as DACA deadline approaches

Nation of immigrants sign at rally.

More than 4 in 5 Californians support for legal protections Dreamers, but vulnerable California Republicans are more focused on their party's talking points than taking action.

California Republicans are once again siding with Trump over their own constituents, this time over the issue of Dreamers. Californians overwhelmingly support a legislative solution to continue legal protections for Dreamers. The 85 percent of Californians who support a fix includes strong majorities across party lines, regions, and demographic groups, according to a recent poll.

Yet vulnerable California Republicans like Reps. Mimi Walters of Irvine and Steve Knight of Palmdale offer empty words and poll-tested soundbites rather than concrete action.

Immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, were given legal protections to stay in the United States through a 2012 executive order signed by President Obama. In keeping with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, Trump announced in September 2017 that he was ending those protections, called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, on March 5, 2018.

Rep. Walters has given mixed messages regarding DACA. At times, she has said that she wants to find a legislative fix for Dreamers, even signing a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) supporting an effort to do so. However, Walters is also a staunch supporter of Trump.

A month after Trump rescinded DACA, Walters said, “It is very important that Republicans back the president. He’s the president of our party. He stands for what we stand for.”

Walters has also campaigned on a message of blocking efforts to impeach Trump, even with an ongoing investigation into possible obstruction of justice and other issues underway at the Department of Justice. Walters’ staunch loyalty to Trump is evident in her voting record.

While Walters claims to want to help Dreamers, her votes and actions as a member of Congress tell a more accurate picture of supporting and endorsing Trump instead of voicing the concerns of her constituents. While many members of Congress demanded a DACA solution before votes to fund the government in February, Walters imperiled the fate of the 3,200 Dreamers in her own district by submitting to the whims of Trump and Speaker Ryan.

One of those Dreamers, Rosa Rodriguez, told the Orange County Register that Walters’ banal press statements “weren’t enough.”

“I am asking Mimi Walters to take more leadership and work with her colleagues in Congress to come up with a solution,” she told Walters’ staff in a meeting. Such leadership has not materialized.

Knight is also in the business of paying lip-service to Dreamers, if he even bother to acknowledges them. In the lead-up to the vote on funding, when the main issue being discussed was DACA, Knight penned an op-ed ignoring the issue.

After the vote, Knight noted that dealing with DACA was “an important priority” of his. But constituents know that Knight has a track record of abandoning his priorities when fealty to Trump is demanded. As plans for the tax bill were taking shape, Knight pledged that dealing with potential tax hikes related to federal deduction for state and local taxes was his “number one priority.” But when it came time to vote for a bill that would raise taxes on millions of Californians, Knight abandoned his pledge to vote how Trump wanted him to.

In Knight’s district, almost two-thirds of voters support a solution to provide legal status for Dreamers, which requires more than a buried reference to “priorities” in a press release.

As his constituents have seen, Knight’s “pledges” don’t seem to be worth very much. And it is likely little comfort to the 2,900 Dreamers in his district at risk of deportation.

With the March 5 deadline approaching, Walters and Knight express concerns in press releases and TV appearances while supporting the complete inaction of Ryan.

Meanwhile, both Walters and Knight are silent about the efforts of Trump to undermine a bipartisan solution in the Senate.

While Trump promised to work toward a bipartisan legislative solution, his words and actions regularly undermined efforts, according to the L.A. Times: “Though he had originally promised to help Dreamers, he ultimately was convinced by aides and conservative lawmakers to use the sympathy for Dreamers to exact broader limitations on legal immigration.”

“But the president wasn’t acting alone,” the L.A. Times reported, “as Republican leaders, who had promised a free-wheeling and open debate, threw their support behind the White House’s preference, making sure the bipartisan effort was hobbled before the final vote.”

Not all of California’s elected officials are silently standing by.

“In order to fire up a nativist and xenophobic base, Trump announced that he would be rescinding DACA protections for nearly 700,000 Dreamers — unless Congress acted to stop him,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) after the Senate failed to agree on a solution to DACA. “We have the bipartisan bills to do that. And as soon as Trump drops his absurd and nativist demands that would harm the soul and economy of our county, Congress can get to work on passing them.”

As the DACA deadline fast approaches, Knight and Walters offer nothing more than empty words and useless soundbites, more proof that they are more beholden to the Ryan/Trump agenda than the will of the voters who put them in office.