Rep. Juan Vargas speaks at Thursdays chamber forum. Image from video

Members of the San Diego Congressional delegation voiced strong support for the Dreamers in particular and immigration in general Thursday during an online forum for business leaders.

“Every large chamber of commerce in the whole nation has been behind the Dreamers,” said Rep. Juan Vargas, who represents the 51st District in southern San Diego County. “All of them have supported these kids, not only with words, but also with money, so they can have their filing fees.”

Vargas and Reps. Susan Davis, Mike Levin and Scott Peters spoke at the forum organized by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. The online event took the place of the chamber’s annual legislative luncheon.

The four members of Congress were socially distanced at a video production studio, while moderator Kathleen Lynch, vice president of global government affairs and public policy at Illumina, joined from her home.

Vargas, a Democrat, said he is hopeful that Republicans in the Senate will come around to approving a version of the House bill passed June 4 that gives the Dreamers a path to citizenship. He praised Chief Justice John Roberts for temporarily halting the Trump administration’s effort to end the DACA program that protects those 1 million Dreamers from deportation.

“I wish the President would changes his heart on this,” said Vargas. “Most Republicans want to make this happen, and hopefully we will soon.”

Peters, a Democrat who represents the 52nd District in coastal and north inland San Diego County, blasted the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce visas for immigrants working in technology and life sciences as “anti-logic” and ultimately “anti-American.”

“We need to be the center of talent. That helps drive our economy, and often that means finding the best talent in the world,” said Peters. “We need to lead and not pretend that we can exclude people and prosper.”

Earlier Thursday, before the forum, Davis led other House members in a letter asking the Department of Homeland Security to reverse plans to send home foreign students who attend colleges that are teaching online because of the pandemic.

“This decision has no logic to it and is unnecessary and cruel,” said Davis. “The administration is simply taking advantage of a pandemic to further its extreme immigration policies.”

Davis, who represents the 53rd District in central San Diego, is retiring at the end of the year, and was praised during the forum for her efforts over 10 terms in the House.

The four were asked who they think presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden should pick to run for Vice President. There were no direct answers, and Levin, who represents the 49th District in north coastal San Diego County, observed, “I want Joe Biden to show us the leader he’s going to be for all Americans.”

There was no representation for the 52nd District in East County because Duncan Hunter resigned and that seat will not be filled until the November election.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.