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Two California Republican members join GOP push for DACA fix this year

Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford). (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)
Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford). (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

California Reps. David Valadao and Jeff Denham are joining House Republican colleagues in pushing Speaker Paul D. Ryan to find a legislative fix before the end of the year for the legal status of people brought to the country illegally as children.

Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor and Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse are the lead writers of a letter to Ryan that stresses that the signers support border enforcement and fixing a “broken” immigration system, “but in this moment, we must address the urgent matter before us in a balanced approach that does not harm valuable sectors of our economy nor the lives of these hard-working young people.”

California is home to an estimated one-third of the 750,000 people who were granted work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, 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.

“I know we have until March, but why not just get it done?” Valadao (R-Hanford) said in an interview.

House Republican leaders have said Congress has plenty of time to find a legislative fix, and don’t need to include it in the flood of must-do issues before the end of the year.

“Do we have to have a DACA solution? Yes, we do. The deadline is March as far as I understand. We’ve got other deadlines in front of that,” Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday.

Denham (R-Turlock) said in an interview he’s working to get as many Republican colleagues to sign the letter as he can.

“I want to send a very clear message to the speaker,” Denham said. “We want to show the speaker there are a large number of votes there...We shouldn’t wait another week or another month or [until] a deadline to pass a bill that has bipartisan support.”

Both Valadao and Denham represent districts with large Latino populations that Democrats want to flip in 2018.

Because Trump’s September order stopped new renewals of the two--year protected status, an estimated 122 people lose their deportation protection, and their permission to legally work in the United States, every day.

“Not acting is creating understandable uncertainty and anxiety amongst immigrant communities,” reads an early draft of the letter, obtained Friday by The Times. “While we firmly believe Congress must work to address other issues within our broken immigration system, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and not wait until next year. … Reaching across the aisle to protect DACA recipients before the holidays is the right thing to do.”

Democrats have hinted they might demand a fix for so-called Dreamers in exchange for helping Republicans pass legislation this month to fund the government. While it only needs a simple majority of House members to pass the chamber, conservative hard-liners have balked on the spending bill in the past and  Ryan may need to court Democrats to pass it and keep the government open.

Valadao and Denham both said they aren’t ready to join Democrats who say they will vote against any spending bill that doesn’t have a fix.

“I’d like to see what leadership has planned and give them an opportunity to get it done, but we would like to see it get done before the end of the year,” Valadao said.

1:15 p.m.: This post has been updated with comment from Denham.

It was originally posted at 12:57 p.m.

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