As U.S. Senate Democrats consider blocking budget funding to push for immigration legislation, Arkansas advocates are asking U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) to support legislation that would protect young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, so called “Dreamers.”
The Trump Administration announced plans to end the program this fall.
Mireya Reith is executive director of the Arkansas United Community Coalition, which advocates for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who are allowed to work and study in the U.S.
This week, members of her group met with Cotton in Little Rock to also ask that any immigration bill give naturalized citizens the same rights as other Americans. “…[legislation] that is not conditioned or has conditions that would impede them from being able to apply for citizenship for loved ones and in doing that, create second-class citizens,” she said.
Cotton is a prominent hardliner in immigration talks on Capitol Hill, which are a sticking point in the budget bill that would avert a government shutdown. Last summer he co-authored proposed legislation that would reduce immigration to the United States by half.
He described his immigration priorities on The Hugh Hewitt Show this week, cutting legal immigration by half and ending what he calls “chain migration,” where naturalized citizens sponsor family members. He spoke against amnesty programs on principle.
“First, it encourages more illegal immigration, with children, which is extremely dangerous. That’s why we have to secure our border and enforce our laws to ensure that situation doesn’t happen again. Second, it creates a new set of initiating immigrants for more chain migration.”
Cotton did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Arkansas Public Media.
Some DACA recipients will lose their permit to work legally if legislation is not passed before a March 5 deadline. According to the American Immigration Council, there are nearly 5,000 recipients in Arkansas.
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