DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two North Texas members of Congress from different parties agree that the U.S. should help Dreamers, the nearly 800,000 people nationwide who were brought here illegally by their parents when they were children.
It is now up to Congress to decide the fate of the youngsters after President Donald Trump announced in September that protections approved by President Barack Obama would start to expire this March.
Juan Carlos Cerda is one of an estimated 36,000 Dreamers in North Texas and 142,000 across Texas. “This is my home and going back to Mexico would be heart-breaking for me and my family,” he said.
He was among the featured speakers at a forum Tuesday morning at the Dallas Regional Chamber and organized by the American Business Immigration Coalition and the Jones Day law firm.
Cerda urged Congress to pass legislation that would give him and others like him a path to citizenship before their legal status expires. “I’m eleven months away from another dark period in my life. I will be unable to participate in this society,” he said.
Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Ennis and Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas said they see eye-to-eye on this issue.
Johnson said, “We need permanent legislation. We need laws to protect these young people. We’ve hired their parents or they wouldn’t be here.”
Barton said, “They are an asset. They don’t have a home country to go home to because they’re already home here in America. That’s the first reason and the second reason is it’s just the right thing to do and it’s the fair thing to do.”
There are two different bills.
The Dream Act, supported by Democrats and a few Republicans, would grant Dreamers a path to citizenship.
An alternate bill called Recognizing America’s Children and supported by Republicans, could ultimately grant the youngsters permanent residency status.
Some conservatives have said they don’t believe the Dreamers should be eligible for citizenship because it would send a message that they are rewarding illegal immigration.
During a separate news conference in Dallas Tuesday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn said he believes Congress will pass legislation in either January or February.
Cornyn said it’s important to demonstrate compassion toward the youngsters, but at the same time, “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to get some legislation passed on border security and enforcing the current law.”
He said while the youngsters don’t have a path toward citizenship now, “But that’s part of the negotiations.”
As for Juan Carlos Cerda, he had a message for those who don’t support a path toward citizenship “They must find it in their hearts to support young people who grew up along their sons and daughters and give us the same rights,” he said.