The political machine backed by billionaires Charles and David Koch is stepping in to urge lawmakers to pass legislation to help the so-called Dreamers, the class of immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents and who benefitted from an Obama-era program that President Trump axed.
The Koch-backed LIBRE Initiative and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce are launching a seven-figure campaign, including national broadcast, cable, and digital ads, to push for a permanent solution for Dreamers. Implicit in the decision is the choice to take on Trump and his base on the divisive Dreamers issue.
(Disclosure: Meredith Corp., TIME’s parent company, purchased what was formally known as Time Inc. in a deal that was partially financed by Koch Equity Development, a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc.)
Starting Thursday, 30-second ads featuring clips of former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama discussing immigration reform in speeches will begin airing regionally. By Sunday, the ad will appear nationally.
“There is a bipartisan path forward on immigration that offers a permanent solution for our dreamers and a stronger border,” a narrator says in the ad. “What are we waiting for?”
“Washington must come together and approve a bipartisan solution that provides certainty for Dreamers and security improvements along our border.”
Time will tell if the campaign pressures lawmakers into action. It has been over seven months since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. “Congress and the White House have spent a lot of time talking about DACA, but today our elected officials have yet to approve a permanent legislative solution,” Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative, said in a statement.
President Trump has at times signaled he could support proposals to protect the nearly 700,000 immigrants who were shielded from deportation and allowed to work under the program. Many of the proposals would have also partially funded Trump’s long-promised wall along the Southern Border. But Trump has refused to sign any Dreamer-related legislation that does not include funding for the border wall, reductions in family-based migration, and the end of the diversity visa lottery program.
Congress appeared poised to include a solution for DACA and funding for the border wall in a recent spending package, but it was ultimately left out.
Legal challenges to the Trump administration decision have allowed current DACA recipients to renew their applications, but new applicants are not able to apply. As a whole, the young immigrants known as Dreamers still face uncertainty about their collective future.
“President Trump and our congressional leaders should step up and do the right thing,” James Davis, the executive Vice President of Freedom Partners said in a statement. “This is too big of a problem for lawmakers to ignore, or to allow politics to get in the way.”