00:56 - Source: CNN
GOP congressman: 'Dreamers' should be citizens

Story highlights

"We need to do the right thing," Curbelo said

Trump has attempted to tread carefully on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

CNN  — 

Congress needs to pass legislation that grants American citizenship to undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, a Republican lawmaker said Friday.

“We need to do the right thing. We need to put partisanship aside, just like we need to do in health care, and do right by these young people who, in my opinion, are already Americans. We just need to recognize it,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.”

The Florida lawmaker said there’s “a growing consensus” inside the Republican Party in support of granting the immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” citizenship.

“Three-, 4-, 5-year old children brought across the border did not break any law. Many of these kids only speak English. A lot of them don’t even remember their countries of origin because they were so young when they came,” Curbelo said.

President Donald Trump has attempted to tread carefully on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, walking a line between Republicans who want the program cut entirely and the political and practical impact of eliminating protections for undocumented immigrants.

“We’re going to show great heart,” Trump said at a February news conference. “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you.”

Trump keeps DACA but chips away at barriers to deportation

Curbelo acknowledged Trump’s commitment to Dreamers and said some Republican lawmakers are introducing legislation that helps them receive legal status.

“You heard the President say this group needs to be taken care of,” Curbelo said. “There are many, many Republicans here in the House and 10 of us today are introducing this legislation that really believes we need to make sure these young people are given a chance to fully incorporate themselves into our society.”

Curbelo said many Dreamers have grown up to contribute to America economically and professionally and should be allowed to “enjoy” citizenship.

“These are people who are contributing to our economy, working hard. Some of them want to serve in our military. Others are at colleges and universities earning degrees,” he said. “These are America’s children, and it’s about time that we accept them and we give them that path to full American citizenship so they can fully participate and enjoy in the American experience.”