U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said Wednesday he wants to see a "realistic" legislative approach for people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, in the context of larger immigration reform that would include border security, a guest worker program, and addressing the legal status of other undocumented people in the country.
Simpson's only declared Democratic opponent so far, Peter Rickards of Twin Falls, released a statement saying he would vote for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy and urging Simpson to do the same, while condemning President Donald Trump's actions to end the program.
President Barack Obama established a policy in 2012 by executive order letting some people who live in the U.S. illegally but who were brought here as children live and work in the country without fear of deportation. President Donald Trump announced earlier this week he would end the program in six months, while urging Congress to pass something addressing the issue. There has been some talk of trying to tie legal residency for these people to other immigration reforms or border security measures, including the wall along the U.S.-Mexican border that was one of the core planks of Trump's presidential campaign.
Simpson has long said he opposes mass deportation of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country and supports letting them legalize their residence here but thinks they should have to go through the normal process to obtain citizenship.
About 800,000 people nationwide and 3,100 in Idaho are DACA beneficiaries.
Their full statements are below:
"I would vote for DACA if in Congress.
"We do need border security for terrorists but in no way are DACA kids anything but a benefit to this country. Trump should not race bait and play with people's future, causing harmful stress and family separation.
"I do believe in legal immigration but there is no need to punish innocent young people now, to make trump's pointless political points.
"I challenge Simpson to pass DACA immediately so families now crying can feel safe in America & able to show up AT WORK tomorrow. One Houston area EMT who just worked seven days straight faces DACA deportation when Trump announced his plan.
"Call it Amnesty if you want, it is what Jesus would do. I might even offer Sessions amnesty for lying under oath about meetings with Russians in return for stopping this stupidity."
“While I did not agree with the previous Administration’s overreach when developing the DACA program, I also believe we need to be realistic about how we treat these individuals that were unknowingly brought into this country. This issue, along with many others in our immigration system, needs to be addressed with a permanent legislative solution. I look forward to working with the my colleagues and the Administration to find a comprehensive solution for this situation, which should also include strong measures to secure our borders, an overhaul of our guest worker programs and address the issue of legal status for those who are working and living in our local communities.”