Koch Brothers will get behind legislative effort to extend DACA
The vast political network of Charles and David Koch announced that they will support legislation in Congress that would continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program begun by executive order under President Obama.
The Koch brothers are longtime advocates of immigration reform and have supported the DREAM Act in Congress. The DREAM Act would codify much of the DACA program into law.
"The Seminar Network is committed to working with and encouraging lawmakers to come together to pass a durable solution into law," said James Davis, a spokesman for that network, in a Wednesday email. "Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies."
The bulk of the Koch network's promotion of a DACA fix will take place through its entity that focuses on Latino issues, the Libre Initiative. Brian Faughnan, a Libre spokesman, said the group will engage with lawmakers in the hopes of securing permanent U.S. residency for DACA beneficiaries, commonly known as DREAMers.
Leading Libre's legislative campaign will be Marilinda Garcia, the group's national spokesperson and a former New Hampshire state legislator. Garcia is also registered to lobby Congress on behalf of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch network's issue advocacy arm.
"She (and we) have always made our views clear on immigration," Faughnan said. "With the recent action on DACA/Dreamers, she'll be encouraging lawmakers to act as expeditiously as possible on a bipartisan fix that allows Dreamers to remain here, achieve their potential, [and] help build a stronger nation."
With its formidable political and policy operation, the Koch network could provide more political cover to Republican members of Congress as they consider a replacement to the DACA program. Koch network alumni are sprinkled throughout Trump's inner circle, and include White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short and Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who now advises a prominent independent political group supporting the president.
Though the Kochs have clashed with President Trump on some major issues – including his ban on immigration from six Muslim-majority nations – they retain significant influence among Hill Republicans, many of whom were elected with the support of Koch network organizations.
The statement did not mention making passage of the DREAM Act a litmus test for support from the Koch brothers political action arm, but when the brothers talk, Republicans listen.
The involvement of the Koch brothers in the push to legalize DREAMers complicates matters for conservatives who are lining up to fight the legislation. The brothers' support means some Republicans who may have been inclined to pass a restrictive DREAM Act or no legislation at all will now find it difficult to do so. That's how extensive and broad the Koch brothers network of PACs and grassroots political organizations are. They have their fingers in a lot of conservative and libertarian pies and few Republicans want to get on their bad side.
As it stands now, a new push for the DREAM Act would almost certainly pass the Senate. It's assumed that almost all Democrats would vote for the measure, meaning only a dozen or so Republican votes would be necessary to eclipse the 60-vote filibuster.
But the House is a different story. Even with solid Democratic support, many House conservatives are opposed. It remains to be seen whether the Koch brothers' power and influence could tip the balance and save the DREAMers from deportation.