Chamber of Commerce Pleads With GOP to Approve DACA Legislation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter pleading with House Republicans to pass legislation shielding young, undocumented immigrants from deportation and reject cuts to legal immigration demanded by the White House and conservatives as part of any deal.

The letter came shortly before House conservatives, moderates and leaders met Thursday to negotiate a possible solution, and as a faction of Republicans supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program teamed up with Democrats on a petition that would force House votes on the issue. The meeting adjourned with no resolution.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has supported President Donald Trump’s efforts to cut legal immigration through family-based green card sponsorships and elimination of the diversity visa lottery.

DACA, begun under President Barack Obama, protects undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. as children. Recipients are shielded from deportation and given temporary work permits. Trump previously announced he was ending the DACA program but it remains in place as a result of a legal battle.

"It is long past time to protect the Dreamers and secure our border," the Chamber’s executive vice president, Neil Bradley, wrote in the letter. "We hope the House acts on the bipartisan solutions that exist to address these issues. If there is a desire to address other issues, the Chamber urges the House to reject significant cuts to legal immigration and to consider including measures that provide certainty to other groups of individuals who are at risk of losing their legal ability to work in the United States."

Bradley said the administration’s moves to beef up scrutiny of H-1B visas for skilled workers would have a detrimental impact on the workforce, and that without "congressional action, more than one million individuals would lose their legal ability to work in the United States."

Lawmakers coming out of the meeting with Ryan said discussions are continuing and no agreement has been reached. Ryan told Republicans that any deal should respect Trump’s demands for a border wall, protections for young undocumented immigrants and make changes to diversity visas and family sponsorship visas. 

“Same song, third verse,” said Representative John Carter of Texas.

Peter King of New York said there was no rancor in the meeting. “There was consensus that we have to find an agreement,” he said.

During the meeting, Dana Rohrabacher of California said he suggested paying for the wall by selling 50,000 visas for $1 million each per year.