“Anything that moves us along we’d love to see, but it should be real,” Becerra said of the Republican version of the DREAM Act.
In the days following the announcement that a Cantor-Goodlatte bill was in the works, senior House Democrats were careful to temper expectations, giving responses that vacillated between “let’s wait and see” to incredulity that the GOP would offer a bill that could be anything remotely palatable.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas, said he needed to read the bill before making any decisions.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., another leading voice in the House for an immigration rewrite, said she would withhold judgment as well, though she conceded that it made her nervous that the measure was being drafted without Democratic input.
“Anything that moves us along we’d love to see, but it should be real,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California. “If they’re going to talk about doing something for DREAMers that’s short of even what the president did, come on. We’ve been there, we’ve done that, it’s so yesterday, and so we hope [Republicans] are prepared to join us in today’s world and not talk about the 20th century.”
Others were even more dismissive. One Democratic leadership aide said the bill appeared to be nothing more than “a wolf in sheep’s clothes.”
Another aide said in an email that, “based on Goodlatte’s comments, the legislation he is envisioning is too limited, either in the context of DREAM Act related legislation itself, or more importantly, the larger goal of providing a comprehensive immigration bill that the American people expect for the House to pass, etc.”
At a news conference on July 19, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., pointed out that the DREAMers themselves were in opposition to the bill.
On Monday, the day before the House Judiciary Committee’s scheduled hearing on the issue, activists convened a conference call to “reject GOP attempts to push the DREAM Act without citizenship for the rest of the community.”
“You’re going to have young people that are going to be thankful and at the same time they’re going to wonder why you treat the parents in such a cruel way,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., who, along with Becerra, Diaz-Balart and Lofgren, is part of the bipartisan “gang of seven” that’s working to produce a comprehensive House immigration bill.
“If it’s part of a greater series of proposals that come together to make comprehensive immigration reform, it’s fine,” Gutierrez continued. “I see a glass that’s getting half full, a good step in the right direction, [but] we’re about three years too late.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.