In a surprising partnership, US Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) and Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) are cosponsoring a bill members of Congress are calling the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act. The bill would allow people who qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to stay in the United States for three years and would protect people whose DACA applications are pending. It's unclear what President Donald Trump plans to do with the DACA program. During his campaign, Trump said he would end DACA but has since backpedaled.
Here are the basics of the bill from Jayapal's office:
• Provides provisional protected presence for individuals who met certain eligibility standards. These include being born after June 15th, 1981 and entering the U.S. before reaching the age of 16. Additionally, an applicant must not have been convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors, must not be a security risk, and must be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or have a certificate of completion, or is an honorably discharged veteran. This status would last for 3 years after the date of enactment of the legislation.
•An applicant may not be removed from the U.S. while his or her application for protected status is pending if the applicant appears to meet the necessary requirements.
•Includes protections against the sharing of applicant information.
The bill was introduced earlier this month by Colorado Republican Mike Coffman; Jayapal and Reichert signed on this week. Senators introduced similar legislation (with the same name) in December. In a statement, Jayapal, a former immigration activist who is fighting Trump's travel ban, called the bill "an important first step toward protecting these young people from deportation."
Reichert has been vague about his position on Trump's harsh immigration policies, though the Washington Post lists him as supportive. In a statement to the Seattle Times, Reichert avoided a clear position but criticized the rollout of the ban. (Reichert, by the way, voted in 2015 to suspend President Barack Obama's program admitting Syrian refugees. He was also the only Washington Republican to vote on gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics and he voted yes.)
"We can and should defend the children who were brought to our nation many years ago outside of their own control," Reichert said in a statement about the BRIDGE Act. "This is their country and their home... Our immigration system must be fair, effective, and compassionate toward the many families and individuals seeking to live the American dream and contribute to our communities.”