For about 800,000 young men and women, suddenly their futures have become uncertain.
Over the past few days, much has been written about whether the Trump administration would end the Obama era policy of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (or DACA). Under DACA, children of undocumented immigrants – that had grew-up in the US – were protected from deportation and allowed to apply for temporary (but renewable) work permits. Among current estimates, DACA protected around 800,000 in the US. Today, President Trump and his administration decided to end that program.
There are some major questions now circling because of that decision, so let’s just dive in.
What Happens to the 800,000 Individuals That Were a Part of DACA?
— Rebecca R. Ruiz (@RebeccaRuiz) September 5, 2017
Well, in truth, their lives are completely put into disarray. Even though DACA will end gradually – more on that in a second – for those 200,000 plus individuals that have DACA status end for them in 2018, the government will process their DACA renewal requests until Oct. 5th of this year. DACA renewal lasts for about two years. Even if Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said they won’t strip individuals that currently have DACA status, no new DACA submissions will be accepted. Whether they are already part of the American workforce or graduating college and searching for their first job, the people who had taken part of DACA now find their future plans in flux.
When it comes to deportation procedures, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has said that they won’t target those with DACA status, but people who lose their DACA status would be treated as having entered this country illegally. Under President Trump, those individuals who lose DACA status are in severe risk of being deported.
Yet, for right now anyway, DACA is going to end gradually. Or as the Trump administration puts it, Congress now has 6 months to come up with something that would protect Dreamers (children of undocumented immigrants) and put in something that resembles DACA. So now with President Trump punting DACA protections to Congress…
Can Congress Actually Come Up with Some Legislative Replacement for DACA?
Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
That’s a REALLY hard question to answer.
Theoretically speaking, Congress could very well have the votes. What has been surprising over the last couple of days is the number of Republicans that have spoken out in favor of keeping DACA. If you were to add up the moderate Republicans (who would be willing to vote for legislation that would protect those individuals with DACA status) and Democrats (who already support protecting those under DACA), then you might have a big enough coalition to get legislation through both the House and Senate. Also, based on the above tweet, President Trump sounds open to signing that legislation into law!
The only problem with that however, doing this in six months, with this current GOP Congress, feels like a long shot.
Even with Republicans having majorities in both the House and Senate, this GOP Congress has had a very hard time getting on the same page, even in the most basic of Republican ideals. Legislation like a repeal to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), basic tax reform, and raising the debt ceiling have been met with much division within the GOP. These issues are usually basic conservative policies that Republicans widely agree on.
Extending that logic, immigration reform of any kind has traditionally been a divisive subject to the Republican Party. Even in cases where Republicans had put forth legislation that called for light immigration reforms that the party generally agreed with – like the DREAM Act – it was still met with antagonism from many Congressional Republicans. So if this GOP Congress can’t even get together to pass legislation that they traditionally have been in approval of, what chance do they have of passing something as divisive as immigration reform?!
The answer; not a good one.
Because of that, it’s hard to see either Speaker of the House Paul Ryan or Senate Leader Mitch McConnell bring legislation that would reinstate something similar to DACA onto the floor. Not only do they feel more important issues are ahead of such legislation (raising the debt ceiling, tax reform, Hurricane Harvey relief, ect), but bringing anything resembling immigration reform could further polarize an already divided GOP Congress. With that said, both Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham have re-introduced a version of the DREAM Act that would reinstate those protections that DACA had provided. Even with both senators wanting to bring the bill to a vote this month, there’s no guarantee that it will be a major issue on the Republican agenda.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) September 5, 2017
Considering Congress only has about 6 months 5 months to get something like DACA protection passed, for Dreamers that are worried about what their future holds, sadly there’s a good chance that Congress won’t be your saving grace here.
(Photo Credits: Pixabay.com)