Bennet, Entire Senate Democratic Caucus Call on Leader McConnell to Bring Bipartisan House-Passed Dream & Promise Act to Floor for a Vote

Letter to McConnell from Senate Democratic Caucus Follows Last Week’s Historic Supreme Court Decision on DACA

Washington, D.C. — Following last week’s historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling rejecting President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined the entire Senate Democratic Caucus in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) calling on him to immediately take up the bipartisan House-passed American Dream and Promise Act, which will establish a path to citizenship for Dreamers and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). On Friday, Bennet and 42 of his colleagues also wrote a letter to Trump calling on him to protect Dreamers following the Supreme Court’s decision. 

In their letter to Leader McConnell, Bennet and the senators noted that with Republicans in the majority, the Senate has failed to address our nation’s immigration challenges. In the 116th Congress, the Border Security and Immigration Subcommittee has held only one hearing; the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted on only one immigration bill – the Trump Administration’s anti-asylum bill – and the Republican majority limited debate to only one hour and did not allow a single amendment to be offered; and McConnell has not brought a single immigration bill to the floor of the Senate.  

“It is not too late to change course. As Majority Leader, you can immediately schedule a vote in the Senate for the American Dream and Promise Act,” wrote Bennet and the senators. “It would be an American tragedy to deport DACA recipients who are saving lives in the midst of this pandemic. We must ensure these talented young immigrants are not forced to stop working when the need for their public service has never been greater. And we must give them the chance they deserve to become American citizens.” 

In the midst of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, more than 200,000 DACA recipients are working in occupational areas that the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identifies as part of the “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” This includes an estimated 41,700 DACA recipients working in the health care industry, including physicians and physicians in training, intensive care nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, and health technicians. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bennet has prioritized supporting DACA recipients – in April, he pressed Trump to take executive action to extend work authorizations for DACA recipients, and led a group of his Senate colleagues in calling on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to allow DACA students to access emergency financial aid grant funding secured in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  

Since cosponsoring the Dream Act in 2009, Bennet has supported offering a path to citizenship for individuals who were brought to the United States as children. When Congress failed to pass the Dream Act, Bennet urged then-President Barack Obama to create the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Throughout Obama’s presidency, Bennet fought for DACA, signing an amicus brief in support of Obama’s executive action to expand DACA in December of 2015, and signing an amicus brief in support of Obama’s executive actions in the United States v. Texas case in 2016, which at the time blocked implementation of the president's expansion of DACA.  

As a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” Bennet drafted the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Act of 2013. The legislation earned an overwhelming bipartisan vote in the Senate with 68 votes, but was not brought up for a vote in the House. The Gang of Eight bill would have modernized our visa system for legal immigrants and given 11 million undocumented immigrants a fair path to earn American citizenship. His work on the bill was informed by a Colorado-wide conversation on immigration he led that produced a set of principles called the Colorado Compact.   

In 2017, Bennet called on President Donald Trump to use his executive authority to protect DACA students. When Trump announced he would terminate DACA, Bennet demanded Congress work together to find a legislative solution on the Senate floor. That same year, Bennet co-sponsored the Dream Act of 2017 to offer Dreamers a pathway to earned citizenship and called for an extension of the DACA renewal deadline in the wake of three massive hurricanes that disrupted the lives of millions of Americans. 

From November 2017 through February 2018, Bennet worked with a bipartisan group of senators, dubbed the “Gang of Six,” to draft legislation to protect DACA recipients as an addition to the FY18 omnibus legislation. In 2018, following court injunctions keeping DACA in place, Bennet pushed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expedite the processing of DACA renewal applications.  

In 2019, after the Supreme Court announced it would take up the question of the legality of Trump’s repeal of DACA, Bennet joined 172 current and former members of Congress in filing a bipartisan amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of DACA. On the first day of oral arguments, Bennet reiterated his call for Congress to work together to find a legislative solution to protect Dreamers, and urged the Supreme Court to uphold the rulings of lower courts across the country that found the president violated U.S. law when he ended DACA.  

Earlier this year, Bennet joined over 100 of his Congressional colleagues in pressing the Trump Administration on reports that DHS was preparing mass deportations of DACA recipients.   

In addition to Bennet, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). 

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.   

Dear Leader McConnell: 

Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), last week President Trump tweeted, “We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly in order to properly fulfil the Supreme Court’s ruling & request of yesterday.”  The Senate has a responsibility to consider legislation to protect the young immigrants who are eligible for DACA.  We call on you to immediately schedule a vote in the Senate on H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, legislation to give DACA recipients a path to citizenship that passed the House of Representatives more than a year ago. 

Eight years ago, following bipartisan requests from Congress, President Obama used his legal authority to establish DACA.  DACA provides temporary protection from deportation on an individualized basis to immigrants who arrived in the United States as children if they register with the government, pay a fee, and pass criminal and national security background checks. 

The young people who are eligible for DACA, known as Dreamers, are American in every way except for their immigration status.  More than 800,000 Dreamers have come forward and received DACA.  DACA has been vital for Dreamers, who are contributing to our country as soldiers, nurses, teachers, and small business owners, and in many other ways.  

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 200,000 DACA recipients are working in occupational areas that the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identifies as part of the “essential critical infrastructure workforce.”  This includes an estimated 41,700 DACA recipients working in the health care industry, including physicians and physicians in training, intensive care nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, and health technicians.  Congress must take action to ensure these essential workers are not deported to countries they barely remember even as our nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.  

When President Trump announced his repeal of DACA, he called on Congress to “legalize DACA,” and last week he tweeted, “I have wanted to take care of DACA recipients better than the Do Nothing Democrats, but for two years they refused to negotiate.” In fact, the President has rejected numerous bipartisan deals to protect Dreamers. For example, on January 11, 2018, in a meeting in the Oval Office, he rejected a bipartisan immigration agreement that included protection for Dreamers.  On February 15, 2018, the Senate considered a bipartisan amendment offered by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Angus King (I-ME), which included a path to citizenship for Dreamers.  A bipartisan majority supported the amendment, but it failed to reach the 60 votes needed to pass because the Trump Administration issued a statement of opposition.  On the same day, the Senate rejected the President’s immigration proposal by a bipartisan supermajority of 39-60.

With Republicans in the majority, the United States Senate has failed to address our immigration challenges.  In the 116th Congress, the Border Security and Immigration Subcommittee has held only one hearing; the Senate Judiciary Committee has voted on only one immigration bill – the Trump Administration’s anti-asylum bill – and the Republican majority limited debate to only one hour and did not allow a single amendment to be offered; and you, as Majority Leader, have not brought a single immigration bill to the floor of the Senate.  

It is not too late to change course.  As Majority Leader, you can immediately schedule a vote in the Senate for the American Dream and Promise Act.  It would be an American tragedy to deport DACA recipients who are saving lives in the midst of this pandemic.   We must ensure these talented young immigrants are not forced to stop working when the need for their public service has never been greater.  And we must give them the chance they deserve to become American citizens. 

We, and hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, await your response. 

Sincerely,