On Wednesday, three members of Congress took the unusual step of calling for the House’s adjournment in order to focus attention on the need for the DREAM Act to protect immigrants. In succession, after delivering one-minute speeches in accordance with House procedures, Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Harlem’s Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) interrupted scheduled legislative business on the House floor by calling for a recorded vote on whether the House of Representatives should adjourn, thus forcing Members to come to the floor for an unscheduled vote. The Members said they took this action to demonstrate the urgency with which the Congress must address the immigration status of Dreamers, those who arrived in the U.S. as children but have lived here for years and have no way to get legal immigration status.
“The President gave the Congress a deadline to pass legislation to protect the Dreamers and we take that deadline very seriously and think our colleagues should too,” said Rep. Gutiérrez. “Any time we are not debating the Dream Act is time wasted and we wanted to make that point by forcing everyone to come to the floor for a symbolic vote.”
“We are taking action to make sure everyone knows that people with DACA are already losing their status and face deportation,” said Rep. Grijalva. “If we have to inconvenience our colleagues to get their attention, so be it.”
“We are making it clear to Republicans and Democrats that we are willing to use any parliamentary procedure at our disposal to force our colleagues to address the DACA crisis and the Dream Act with the urgency it deserves,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat. “We have the votes for the Dream Act in the House, so if the Speaker gives us a vote, we can resolve the issue and we won’t be forced to take these unusual actions.”
By calling for a privileged Motion to Adjourn, the House Members compel a vote in the House floor to end usual floor proceedings. They are demanding a vote on the DREAM Act (HR 3440), which would give legal protections to certain immigrants, many of whom are among the 800,000 recipients of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program the President terminated in September. While a court injunction has temporarily blocked the President from undocumenting these long-term immigrants, the Congress must still pass legislation immediately to ensure protection from deportation.
Rep. Gutiérrez: “We need the Dream Act because Donald Trump and his followers are trying to turn documented, registered, working immigrants and drive them out of our communities. Someone has to take a stand. Maybe today’s actions are a nuisance, but we will not sit silently while the Trump deportation machine gears up to deport Dreamers or their families.”
Rep. Grijalva: “The televised reality show in the President’s Board Room yesterday did not give me any confidence that the President understands these issues or that the White House and congressional Republicans intend to be honest, thoughtful negotiators. But whatever legislation the Congress can pass needs to be passed in a hurry because people’s lives are already being upended.”
Rep. Espaillat: “The pressure is on and we are simply demanding a vote. Business as usual will not lead to a solution for the American people, immigrants, and the Dreamers, so we will continue to shake things up until we get a vote.”