Former Congressman urges Republicans to legalize DACA, but at a price

DENVER -- The fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program now lies in the hands of Congress, but one former U.S. congressman is skeptical lawmakers will pass any significant immigration reform.

Tom Tancredo served two terms in the House of Representatives and followed that up with a run for president in 2008.

He's now watching the drama in Washington unfold from afar.

"Love to be in Congress? God, that's so hard to say," he answered when asked if he wish could help decide the fate of DACA.

Tancredo and many others say the debate over DACA isn't necessarily about immigration, but instead the way it was enacted, not by law, but by executive action.

"We can discuss the immigration side of this and what's right and wrong, but the legal side is not open for debate," he said. "You have to be concerned about the way this was done because the precedent that was established was horrible.

"Most liberals would hate the idea of (President Donald) Trump doing a similar thing. I mean, they'd go nuts."

Tancredo said there is now a lot of pressure on Republicans and Democrats to pass immigration reform within the next six months.

"I think the president has told Congress, put up or shut up. I don't think they're going to do either," he said.

However, Tancredo believes this is a big opportunity for lawmakers, specifically Republicans.

He believes Republicans could and should legalize DACA, so long as they get something big in return.

"I don't care about the wall. Everyone says the wall. The wall is insignificant. I mean, I'm all for it, but it is not the real solution to the issue. The solution is E-verify," Tancredo said.

E-verify is the online program that verifies an employees' immigration status to make sure workers are legally employed.

He said this is an opportunity for both parties to get what they want.

"There's got to be something that happens to people negatively if they are here illegally," he said.

However, that compromise might require larger concessions than either party is willing to make.