oung immigrants who came to the United States as children and do not have a residence permit today would contribute to the economic growth of Mexico or Central America if they are deported or return to those countries, Republican Congressman Steve King said Wednesday.
“Perhaps the best we could do for our southern neighbors is to give them back their talent and restore law and order,” said the Iowa representative.
King opposes the existence of the program established by former President Barack Obama that suspends deportations and grants work permits to some 800,000 immigrant youth, also known as “dreamers.” Many of the legislators who are in favor of these immigrants staying in the United States say that this is the only country they consider their home.
President Donald Trump ordered the gradual cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and has asked Congress to submit a proposal within six months, when work permits under the plan begin to expire. Leaders from both houses say they want a legislative solution to extend deportation protections, but the prospects are uncertain. Trump told Congress leaders on Sunday that his immigration priorities should be respected in exchange for the extension of protections.
Trump’s list of demands includes reforming the country’s legal residency system, cracking down on unaccompanied minors entering the United States illegally, and building the wall he has promised along the border with Mexico.
King, a hard-line immigration conservative, said the president is using the immigrant youth program as a negotiating tool to achieve the priorities he announced on the weekend.
“I think this is dangerous because we could end up with an amnesty and with him as someone who did not keep his promise,” King said. “I am in favor of restoring respect for the law and it is not possible to reward those who break the law and at the same time restore respect for the law.”
King compared the young immigrants hosted by DACA with Peace Corps volunteers. He said they would “return home after receiving free education in the United States and return home knowing how a country works almost correctly.”
“What would 700,000 dreamers do in their countries of origin? It would be a great boost for the economic development of Mexico and Central America,” he said.