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Rep. Capuano Reacts To The Decision To End DACA08:59Download

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U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in a 2008 file photo. (Charles Krupa/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano in a 2008 file photo. (Charles Krupa/AP)

The Trump administration has announced that it intends to allow the DACA program to "wind down" over the course of the next six months.

The DACA program, enacted by President Obama in 2012, allows people brought to the United States as undocumented minors to remain in the country while they work or attend school, without fear of deportation.

We speak with Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano for his reaction to the announcement.

Guest

Michael Capuano, congressman representing the 7th district of Massachusetts. He tweets @repmikecapuano.

Interview Highlights

On if he thinks Congress will pass legislation in 6 months

"This Congress has not shown any ability to do almost anything. However, I hope so.

A lot of my Republican colleagues say the right things when it comes to DACA, and they say the right thing about immigration reform, but thus far, they have been the voice they keep losing in their own caucus.

I firmly believe that if we could get a reasonable comprehensive immigration reform bill on the floor, like the ones passed through the Senate, which would include addressing this issue, I think it would pass. If it was allowed to have a stand-up vote. The problem comes with the majority party thus far, not being willing to even put it on the floor for a vote."

On failed past attempts to pass immigration reform

"People have to understand, the agenda in the House of Representatives is completely controlled by the leadership of the majority party. It's not new, it's always been that way.

The only way to avoid that is to get what's called a discharge petition, which requires 218 signatures on the petition, which is a majority of the House. And in this case, it would require us to get about 30 members of the Republican party to join the Democrats, to force the bill to the floor. That might happen, but it seldom happens because the pressure within each party to not go against its own leadership is very significant."

On what a potential immigration reform compromise might look like

"It would have to include what to do with the 10, 12 million people who are already in the country, including the DREAMers. The DREAMers might be a separate action, but there has to be something done with their parents and people who don't have children in the country as well.

Let's assume for the sake of discussion that we have 12 million people in the country here that are undocumented. And let's assume we have ... a million DREAMers — let's just take them out of the equation. That still leaves 11 million people that we have to deal with. Most of whom are good solid people who are just trying to make their lives better. Are we really gonna deport 11 million people? I think the answer is no. I think everybody realizes that's the case.

That's not what we're gonna do, that's not good for the country, it's kinda a silly thing to worry about too much. But we do have to deal with them. Either ... find a way to get them on a path to becoming legal, or deport them, or whatever we're gonna do. And then we have to move forward and say OK, based on where we are today, maybe we need to look at our immigration reform going forward. How many people do we need in this country next year? And the year after? And the year after? And what qualifications should they have? This is not easy stuff. But that's comprehensive immigration reform.

I think it can be done by thoughtful people who want to find a resolution. It cannot be done if the Republican party only listens to its extreme right wing who simply wanna just deport everybody and throw up walls and not let anybody ever in again, because that's not how America was built and that's not what America is."

On the work sectors that have seen an impact on their wages from illegal immigration

"That's a great and good and thoughtful argument going forward. Look, I think that part of the weakness on the Democratic side is that we never talk about secure borders. I am for secure borders. Not because I wanna keep everybody out, but because I wanna keep our economy strong. And that requires us to make sure that the labor force is not excessive."

On if he would vote for a bill that addressed DACA and immigration reform, along with building a wall

"I've always thought the focus on the wall is silly because the wall it's just a symbol. There are millions of other ways to make the border secure ... I've always thought the wall is a distraction.

But I do want secure borders. I want them in a thoughtful way, in the most cost effective way you can get, and I just don't think a wall is it. But I also — I'm just not worried about that. What I'm worried about is, let's assume you can put a wall on all four sides of America that appears 100 ft. tall. You're still gonna want immigrants to come into this country to do some of the work to help this country expand. And to me, that's the important question. How many and what qualifications do they have?"

This segment aired on September 5, 2017.

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