The Discharge Petition That Could Determine The Future of Dreamers

By Mehvish Patel on May 22, 2018

Last fall, the Trump administration ended the Obama-era program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. This policy protected thousands of undocumented individuals brought to the US as children and also allowed them to become eligible for a work permit and avoid deportation. These individuals are known as Dreamers. President Trump left the fate of Dreamers in the hands of lawmakers, giving Congress six months to act.

Those six months were up in March.

via Wikimedia Commons


Where Is Congress Right Now

It’s currently May, the deadline has come and gone, and Congress has yet to come up with a solution for Dreamers. Many federal lawsuits have been filed to keep the DACA program running, the House of Representatives has even drafted several bills that deal with the problem at hand, but the leadership has turned their head to all and any help. With no debate or vote taking place, the lives of Dreamers stay uncertain.

The Discharge Petition

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida very recently took a huge step forward by filing what is known as a “discharge petition.” The way it works is that if the House supports the petition, votes will be set up on four DACA-related bills. The news sending shockwaves throughout the predominantly Republican Congress is that in recent days 20 Republican congressman have signed the discharge petition which will force legislation out of committee and onto the House floor. With the midterm election coming up Republicans with a large immigrant presence in their districts want to see the problem solved and on it’s way to Senate as soon as possible.

What House Speaker Paul Ryan Thinks

The Republican leadership usually keeps anything that isn’t supported by the majority members off the floor so it’s no surprise that House Speaker Paul Ryan is urging his GOP colleagues in private meetings to refrain from signing the discharge petition. Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Worcester says GOP members “are under enormous pressure from their leadership not to sign it.”

However, Republican Reps John Katko of New York and Dave Trott of Michigan added their names to the list in the wake of this news for this sole reason. Their confident defiance has brought that number of Republican signatures to where it currently sits at 20. In theory, if all 193 Democrats supporting the effort sign off, the Republican party is only 5 short of the number they need to bring this legislation to the House floor for debate and finally a vote.

Paul Ryan, however, is continuing to discourage discharge efforts saying he doesn’t want to bring something to the floor which will result in a Trump veto. The House Speaker’s fear of a divide in Republican Reps seems to be unfolding before his eyes and there’s nothing he can do about it. Despite his efforts, moderate Republicans like California Rep. Jeff Denham are leading the petition effort and claim it’s time to force a vote on the issue. It’s safe to say that no one will stop until the overdue debate is brought to the House floor and dealt with as it should’ve been a long time ago.

What We Can Do

As the outcome of the discharge petition stays unknown our job remains the same. Contact your representatives and urge them to make the right choice in keeping DACA intact. Dreamers belong in this country just as much as you and I. Everyday they take part in the development and future of this country they call home and no one should be able to snatch that away from them. A change is taking place and it is our job to see it through. First stop, the House floor.

Currently an English major with a concentration in creative writing at UST. I enjoy traveling, makeup, fashion, and reading anything and everything. I'm practically a walking book of facts that no one asked for. Writing anything from short stories to poetry is my favorite thing to do. You'll most likely always find me in a park somewhere with a book.

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