Late last week, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake introduced legislation which would extend President Obama’s executive orders for young illegal immigrants known as DACA for a period of three years. However, the SAFE Act, which Flake will re-introduce when Congress reconveenes early next year, is not as toothless as Senator Lindsey Graham’s BRIDGE Act.
While Senator Flake’s bill would extend DACA for three more years, it would also incorporate portions of a touger bill on criminal Aliens which Flake and Senator John McCain introduced some time ago called the Criminal Alien Deportation Act. Unlike Lindey Graham’s BRIDGE Act, Flake’s SAFE Act would require the Department of Homeland Security to hold and not release illegal immigrants convicted and/or arrested for criminal activity, and require they be deported to their home country within 90 days.
Flake said about the bill:
I’ve always thought that any child who is brought across the border by their parents, through no fault of their own, ought to be treated differently than others. They’re contributing to society. They’re going to school. Some of them have graduated and are working. Some of them have entered the military and been discharged honorably. Those are the kind of people we want here, and we ought to protect them.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 10, 2016
Flake introduced the bill as the Senate adjourned for the year so that members would be able to read it and study it during the holidays.
It is curious however that Flake said immigration should “be done through legislation, not executive action”. Surely most Republicans agree with him, yet he just introduced a bill which would extend President Obama’s executive orders. It remains to see what, if any response will be expressed by the Trump transition.
The SAFE Act and the BRIDGE Act are obvious attempts by moderate Republicans to thwart President-Elect Trump’s plans to deport all illegal alliens, and will surely face some opposition in Congress and from the White House. However Flake’s SAFE Act seems to be a much more managable bill for Republicans to navigate in the hopes to appeal to millenial hispanics in the future.