Congress should approve legislation this month to deal with the undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said Tuesday.

The 2nd District congressman joined 33 other Republican House members in a joint letter seeking action on the controversial issue by year’s end.

“While we firmly believe Congress must work to address other issues within our broken immigration system, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and not wait until next year,” the lawmakers said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan released Tuesday.

They said they “agree that our border must be enforced, our national security defended and our broken immigration system reformed.” But dealing with the 800,000 immigrants who signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program can’t wait, they said.

“In this moment, we must address the urgent matter before us in a balanced approach that does not harm valuable sectors of our economy nor the lives of these hardworking young people,” they said.

“We must pass legislation that protects DACA recipients from deportation and gives them the opportunity to apply for a more secured status in our country as soon as possible.”

In a statement of his own, Poliquin said, “Congress has waited far too long to act on serious border security and to implement an effective system to control who enters our county.”

“It’s the federal government’s responsibility to establish immigration laws that work for American families while welcoming those wanting to become law-abiding citizens of the United States,” he said.

He criticized former President Obama for sidestepping Congress in 2012 to create the DACA program, a move he called illegal and unconstitutional.

President Trump has vowed to end the program, making it possible for the so-called “Dreamers” to be deported as early as May.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Monday that many of these immigrants have contributed to the nation’s well-being.

She said that a destroyer built at Bath Iron Works, the USS Rafael Peralta, is named for a Marine Corps veteran who pulled a grenade under his body in Iraq to save his comrades. Peralta immigrated illegally to the U.S. as a child from Mexico but gained a green card after joining the military.

Poliquin said that Congress has to “find a solution to address those well-meaning, law-abiding individuals now caught in DACA status” quickly as it also moves “to update our immigration policies which reduce incentives to break the law. America can continue to be a nation of laws, border security, and controlled immigration.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., got a promise from congressional leaders that they’d allow action on DACA as soon as this month as part of his price for voting for the tax bill last week. Collins said she expects that a vote will be held in the Senate.

Steve Collins can be contacted at:

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