OPINION: Shutdown Solution Requires A Path For Bringing Dreamers Into American Life

Tim Phillips President, Americans for Prosperity
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With the partial government shutdown now in its fourth week, the American people are looking to their elected officials to come up with a way out.

For all the contentiousness the debate has inspired, the path to resolution is remarkably clear: Provide funding for the border and provide legal certainty for the population of Dreamers, undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. who were brought here as children.

It’s far from a perfect plan, but it’s a commonsense step forward that would have bipartisan support.

As anyone who has been following this issue will tell you, it will take more than one bill to improve our nation’s immigration laws. But in the absence of more substantive legislation, Congress’ inaction is unfolding in real time with no end in sight. 

There is massive public support for a plan that provides a permanent solution for Dreamers and enhances security at our border.

A CBS News poll taken last year found that nearly 9 out of 10 respondents said Dreamers should remain in the country after meeting certain requirements, such as working or attending school. Another poll taken last year, found that 64 percent of Republicans favor a plan allowing Dreamers to stay and apply for citizenship. 

It’s easy to understand strong support for the Dreamer population. They have seized on the opportunity of living in our country by enrolling in some of our country’s most prestigious colleges and universities. Some have gone on to graduate and are working for Fortune 500 companies and local businesses in our communities. And others have enlisted in our armed forces. 

Hilario Yanez, a dreamer living in Texas, once lived in a homeless shelter in Houston. Today he is an active member of his church and works for a well-respected global consulting firm. 

Yanez’s story is not an anomaly. According to research from the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank, Dreamers contribute $3.4 billion to the U.S. Treasury, and another $42 billion annually to U.S. gross domestic product.  

If President Donald Trump and Congress cut a deal, these young people would have certainty to plan for their futures and continue to have a chance to contribute to our dynamic country and growing economy.

Of course, the American people also know that current state of our border security is inadequate. To that end, last year, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill that included $5 billion for border security, including $126 million for border technology and funding for “barrier construction.” Despite calls to the contrary, a strong and secure border is compatible with a generous immigration policy.

To skeptics who say a bipartisan immigration fix is impossible because congressional leaders are too focused on the politics of division, I would point to the passage of a bipartisan prison reform bill signed into law by President Trump as proof that lawmakers can put aside their differences and unite for the common good.

The president demonstrated leadership in working with Congress on prison reform legislation, and he can do it again by working with lawmakers to develop a plan that secures the border and provides certainty to Dreamers. 

That way, both sides can claim victory, the government shutdown can end and Dreamers can at last be brought fully into American life. But more importantly, the American people win. 

Tim Phillips is president of Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit group that promotes free markets and limited government.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.