Congress Should Stop Dragging Feet on Immigration Reform

It has been more than two months since President Donald Trump announced the end of a program allowing temporary, legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. He told Congress to find a legislative solution. Without one, hundreds of thousands of young people will be at risk of deportation starting early next year.

Last week several GOP senators, including Chuck Grassley, visited the White House to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. They emerged to announce the only agreement reached was that no deal would be included in any “must-pass piece of legislation in 2017,” such as an appropriations bill, according to Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

Translation: This do-nothing Congress is positioning itself to do nothing on this issue.

That is unacceptable. After years of foot-dragging on immigration reform, Congress should address the immigration crisis in this country. Immediately.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation is yet another reminder of the destruction created by lawmakers’ lack of action. Race for Results details the well-being — or lack thereof — of children living in immigrant families. About 77,000 of the 18 million children who are sons or daughters of immigrants or immigrants themselves live in Iowa.

These young Iowans are disproportionately impoverished. Nearly one in three live in high-poverty neighborhoods, compared with just 12 percent of U.S.-born children. Young children in immigrant families in Iowa are enrolled in early-childhood education programs at notably lower rates (47 percent) than their U.S.-born peers (64 percent).

These children are overcoming barriers. About 80 percent of Iowa children in immigrant families live in two-parent households, compared with 74 percent in U.S.-born families. Eighty-six percent of foreign-born young adults in Iowa are in school or working, compared with 90 percent of U.S.-born young adults. And 45 percent of Iowa’s immigrants ages 25 to 29 have completed an associate degree or higher, nearly equal to that of their U.S.-born peers (47 percent).

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