The U.S. House passed an amendment Thursday that looks to cut off funding necessary for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications.
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is the main sponsor of the amendment, which would be attached to the larger 2014 Department of Homeland Security spending bill.
The amendment passed the full House by a 224-201 vote. No Illinois House Republicans voted against the measure.
Lawrence Benito, CEO of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), said King "is probably the most anti-immigrant congressman in the country."
"For people to align themselves with him and his drastic view on immigration, particularly in a time when Republicans simply just need to remember what happened last November, they are going to be an extinct party if they continue with this level of anti-immigrant behavior," he stressed.
The end of DACA would put hundreds of thousands of DREAM students at risk of immediate deportation, those opposed to the amendment say.
Under the DACA initiative, which President Barack Obama announced last June, young people who live in the country illegally, were brought here as children, have graduated from U.S. schools and meet other qualifications would see temporary relief from deportation. They would be able to remain lawfully in the U.S. for two years and obtain work authorization during that period.
Nationally, close to 500,000 undocumented students have applied for DACA thus far, Benito added. Some 75,000 students in Illinois are eligible to apply for DACA, according to ICIRR.
Currently, about 1,100 families are separated each day due to deportations. The majority of people who are deported have no criminal background, Benito added.
"The president of the United States has deported more immigrants than any other president in U.S. history in a time when Congress is finally making progress on this issue," Benito explained.
"So people are frustrated that what we're fighting for in terms of comprehensive immigration reform, many of those people that we're fighting for are being deported right now," he continued. "There are folks that are saying, while Congress is debating this issue, the government should suspend deportation until the issue gets resolved."
Just six Republicans in the House voted against the measure that would essentially defund DACA, including U.S. Reps. Spencer Bachus (AL-6), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Michael Grimm (NY-11), Devin Nunes (CA-22), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) and David Valadao (CA-21).
Three Democrats voted in favor of it, including U.S. Reps. John Barrow (GA-12), Mike McIntyre (NC-7) and Nick Rahall (WV-3).
The measure still has to go up for a vote the U.S. Senate.
Undocumented youths called out Republican Illinois representatives for voting for the bill at a demonstration in Pilsen this morning.
The youths, along with Ald. Danny Solis (25th) and other Latino elected officials, also urged U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to demonstrate leadership on the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, S 744.
The full Senate starts debate on the measure today.
"As the Senate is beginning to debate on the Senate floor, we have not heard one word from Senator Kirk on where he stands on the issue, [neither] has the six Illinois Congressional Republicans, and it's time for them to weigh in," Benito said.