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Mass. Politicos: It's Time To Codify DACA Into Law

Demonstrators at an immigration rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in Washington on Dec. 6, 2017. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Demonstrators at an immigration rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in Washington on Dec. 6, 2017. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
This article is more than 1 year old.

A major defeat for the Trump administration has Democrats pushing a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers.

Meanwhile, lawmakers probe racial inequities beyond the criminal justice system.

Lawmakers Hail DACA Ruling, Call For Senate Vote To Make It Law

DACA recipient Roberto Martinez, left, celebrates with other DACA recipients in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
DACA recipient Roberto Martinez, left, celebrates with other DACA recipients in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which extends temporary relief to some 650,000 so-called DREAMers seeking to remain in this country, drew praise and words of caution from the Massachusetts delegation.

“Finally some good news for freedom and equality in America,” Rep. Seth Moulton said to me minutes after the ruling came down this morning. But, he added, “We obviously have more work to do.”

Lawmakers warn that the situation for enrollees in the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) remains precarious and passing new legislation is the only way to grant permanent protection from deportation for DACA recipients who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children.

By some estimates, Massachusetts is home to nearly 6,000 active DREAMers.

House and Senate Democrats are now calling on the Senate to take up the American Dream and Promise Act — already passed in the House — which would allow DREAMers to apply for permanent residency and provide a path to citizenship.

“The Supreme Court made the right choice to overturn Donald Trump’s cruel termination of DACA—but this fight is far from over,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted. “I’ll keep fighting to ensure Dreamers and their families have a path to citizenship in the country they call home.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy kept his tweet short: “Dreamers are Americans.”

My colleagues Shannon Dooling, Max Larkin and I have much more on this case, its impact, and congressional reaction here. Read more.

Moulton: White House Task Force On Vet Suicides A Good Start, But More Needed

Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. (Alex Brandon/AP)
Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Moulton said President Trump’s $53 million, two-year plan to address the high suicide rate among U.S. Army veterans is well-intentioned, but lacks real fixes.

“They are trying to do good work and there are some things in this proposal that I like,” Moulton said of the president’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS).

But the president’s plan, released Wednesday, included no concrete policy proposals, leaving that task to Congress.

“There are an awful lot of bureaucratic recommendations in places where I think we can be better served by specific policy changes,” said Moulton, who met with members of the task force responsible for the plan several times over the past year.

The plan includes a public messaging campaign to raise awareness around suicide prevention. It also promotes firearm safety measures and proposes adding new barriers to bridges and railroads to help prevent suicide attempts.

Moulton blasted the White House decision not to include treatment recommendations, such as lifting restrictions on medical marijuana use to ease post-traumatic stress or suffering from combat injuries, and also the lack of concrete gun control measures.

White House officials said gun controls were excluded on purpose.

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“We heard a lot of concerns from folks, ‘Oh, if I go to VA and tell them I’ve got mental health problems, my gun will be taken away or my firearm will be taken away,’ " a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday.

Moulton called that approach “so backwards.”

“They recommended locks on guns,” Moulton told me. “Will locks on guns save lives? Yes. But more than 23,000 people die every year from [suicide by] gun [in America].”

Trahan: Racial Disparities In Military Justice System Need ‘Hard Look’

Rep. Lori Trahan said she is “alarmed” by data showing racial disparities in the military justice system, which were highlighted Tuesday at a House Armed Services subcommittee hearing on military personnel.

Trahan and other lawmakers put questions to Brenda Farrell, a director at the Government Accountability Office — the federal government’s top independent watchdog agency.

“I was alarmed when I learned that in the Air Force, for example, a black airman is 71% more likely to be recommended for a non-judicial punishment or a court martial than his white counterpart,” Trahan told me in an interview. “And you see similar, deeply concerning statistics across all of the services.”

Trahan said she doubts Air Force leadership even understands the root causes of the problem.

“I was not reassured whatsoever that the leadership has a firm grasp on what is specifically causing these disparities,” she said. “But I do believe that we need to take a hard look to highlight any underlying cultural issues.”

At the upcoming markup of the Defense Department funding bill, Trahan said she will also press for answers on how to “demilitarize our law enforcement” by curtailing a program that sends surplus military equipment to local police departments, and that lawmakers will review the names of U.S. military bases “to make sure we’re not glorifying Confederate leaders.”

3 More Things:

Warren presses action on disaster relief: In a letter to Senate leadership last week, Warren pressed for passage of a bill that would provide relief for those who lost their homes in natural disasters in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. "The COVID-19 pandemic has already exacerbated the economic uncertainty and the medical and public health infrastructure crisis across the nation and in Puerto Rico — places where hurricanes have devastated families, leaving them searching for safe, stable and affordable housing," Warren said in a statement.

Lynch, Markey push for airline safety task force: Rep. Stephen Lynch and Sen. Ed Markey filed bicameral legislation that would establish a group of experts tasked with drafting new federal guidelines to keep passengers and airline crews safe during the pandemic. The Restoring Safety in the Skies Act would lead to “a cohesive federal strategy to ensure the health and safety of airline passengers, employees, and the public at-large,” Lynch said in a statement.

Infrastructure week for child care: Rep. Katherine Clark introduced legislation to create a $10 billion, five-year competitive grant program aimed at boosting child care facilities around the country. The Child Care Is Infrastructure Act would provide for renovations and modifications to child care facilities, as well as $35 million for a student loan repayment program and scholarships toward higher education for child care educators. Last month, Clark filed a bill to create a $50 billion child care stabilization fund.


WHAT I'M READING

  • Why The Confederate Flag Flew During World War II (The Atlantic)

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Clark, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, tweeted this out on the same day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a requirement that members must wear masks during House hearings.


PARTING NOTE

Join me this Tuesday, June 23, for two timely video town hall events.

At 1 p.m., I’ll moderate a panel discussion hosted by the Boston University Initiative On Cities: Confronting Systemic Racism: Policing, Mass Incarceration, and Black Lives Matter, with BU professors Paula Austin and Jessica Simes, and Raul Fernandez, the university’s associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion.

Then at 6 p.m. I’ll join Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton and Democratic strategist Adrienne Elrod for a WBUR town hall discussion on the coronavirus pandemic and how it will affect the presidential election. COVID-19 And The Presidential Election will be moderated by my colleague, WBUR senior political reporter Anthony Brooks. We hope you’ll join us.

Kimberly Atkins Stohr Twitter Senior News Correspondent
Kimberly Atkins was a senior news correspondent for WBUR, covering national political news from Washington, D.C., with a New England focus.

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