Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Judiciary Committee debates legalization for Dreamers

Lucille Roybal-Allard Dream Act

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), accompanied by Dream Act supporters, says she won't vote vote for anything else than comprehensive immigration reform

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday discussed for the first time legalization for some undocumented immigrants — those brought to the U.S. as children by their parents. But Democrats say they won't support what they call "Dream Act lite." 

Even the toughest critics of immigration reform, such as Iowa Republican Steve King, empathize with the predicament of Dreamers — kids brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. "It tugs at my heart, too," King said. But he doesn't support legal status for these young people, calling it "backdoor amnesty."

Other Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, however, are willing to give it consideration.

Democrats have pushed for the Dream Act for more than a decade. But in this instance, they're saying "no."

L.A. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard stood in a room filled with Dreamers, saying she'd vote for nothing less than comprehensive immigration reform. "Instead of separating parents from their children," she said, "let's bring the Dreamers and their parents out of the shadows."

Fellow Democrat Grace Napolitano of Santa Fe Springs made it personal, asking, "What would you do if your parents were separated and deported? What would you feel?"

There is no bill under consideration — yet. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte are writing the GOP version of the Dream Act, called the Kids' Act. Democrat Zoe Lofgren, one of the House "Gang of Seven" working on a comprehensive bill, called the Kids Act a "positive development," but bemoaned the fact that Democrats weren't asked to contribute to the effort.

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