Half a dozen California Democrats joined House colleagues Wednesday to say they won't back a bill that allows the federal government to spend money unless Congress passes the Dream Act to address the legal status of hundreds of thousands of people who were brought to the country illegally as children.
"It's a priority. Whenever you have a priority you want it done; it needs to be done because these young people deserve to live their lives without fear of being deported," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) said.
The 25 Democrats explained their position in a piece published in the Hill on Wednesday.
An estimated 200,000 of the nearly 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program live in California, giving the Golden State an outsized stake in resolving their legal status. President Trump announced in September he would end the program and gave Congress until March to come up with a legislative fix for DACA recipients.
The bill to fund the government needs just a simple majority of House members to pass the chamber. But if conservative hard-liners balk on the spending bill, as they have in the past, Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) may need to court Democrats to pass it and keep the government open. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) hasn't ruled out demanding a fix for so-called Dreamers.
Ryan has said no decision has been made on when the Dream Act might be considered, including whether it will be added to the spending bill. But several Republican senators have said that Trump does not want to use the spending bill to fix DACA.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has made a similar pledge to vote against the spending bill in the Senate.
Just two California Republicans, Reps. David Valadao of Hanford and Jeff Denham of Turlock, have joined all the California Democrats as cosponsors of the Dream Act.
Three Southern California ACLU affiliates released an ad Wednesday urging Republican Reps. Paul Cook of Yucca Valley, Darrell Issa of Vista, Devin Nunes of Tulare, Ed Royce of Fullerton and Mimi Walters of Irvine to join them. The ad will appear online and will be followed by radio ads.