It seems like it was eons ago when the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was in the national spotlight. But it appears this issue is poised to make a dramatic if short-lived appearance on the political stage as Democrats in Congress seek a legislative solution for those who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were minor children.
Republicans and Democrats have failed multiple times to agree on a policy that would determine the fate of these individuals since former President Donald Trump overturned his predecessor’s executive order that provided them with legal status. But now it appears lawmakers will give it another shot as the GOP prepares to take control of the House next year.
Can Congress Come to an Agreement?
About 300 DACA recipients are traveling to Washington, DC, this week to persuade lawmakers to take up their cause. “Immigrant advocacy groups are calling the campaign the ‘Week of Action,’ in which hundreds of meetings will take place with lobbyists, business and faith leaders, White House officials and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle,” according to Politico.
From the report:
“To name a few, groups have scored meetings with key Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Alex Padilla of California and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, but they’re also starting talks with Republican Sens. John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Mike Lee of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
“This isn’t the first DACA push on the Hill, but supporters of immigration reform argue that this time, it’s now or never. As DACA recipients remain in legal limbo, advocates and legal experts warn the program is likely headed to the Supreme Court, where the conservative bench seems likely to rule it illegal.”
Those involved in the initiative are hopeful that the makeup of Congress will provide an opportunity to hammer out a deal. For the new congressional session, Republicans have retaken the House, but only by a slim margin. Democrats remain in control of the Senate.
Providing permanent legal status to DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, would enjoy bipartisan support. The African American Research Collaborative conducted a Midterm Voter Election Poll finding that 68% of voters support Congress passing legislation to ensure that these individuals can remain in the country.
Senators joined with activists to hold a press conference on Nov. 16 to urge Republicans to collaborate with Democrats to pass a version of the DREAM Act that would provide a pathway to citizenship for beneficiaries of the DACA program. This would also apply to immigrants who did not sign up but would have qualified.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) stressed the urgency of the matter, insisting that now was the time to pass such legislation as Republicans are set to take over in January.
“We know that it’s important in December, that we pass the DREAM Act — December of this year when we return from Thanksgiving — because if the House moves, as we think it might politically, it becomes increasingly difficult after the first of the year to take up this issue. We need to do it now and to do it we need bipartisan support in the Senate,” he said.
Durbin indicated that there might be four or five Republicans in the upper chamber who would support the bill, and ten are needed to overcome the filibuster. However, a GOP-dominated House might crush any chances of getting anything passed. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) vowed there would be “no amnesty.” However, this does not necessarily mean enough Republicans would not support a solution that allows for permanent legal status.
Is There a DACA Solution?
Dreamers have been waiting since the days of President Barack Obama for the government to address their concerns. With what seems to be a majority of the populace on board with granting them some sort of legal status, it is more than a little surprising that Congress has been unable to reach an agreement on the matter. Under Trump, Democrats used DACA as a political football to smear their opponents.
But Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation that would allow these individuals to remain in the country while also beefing up border security to ensure that fewer people end up in the same tenuous position. Naturally, Democrats balked at the suggestion that the government should do more to curb illegal immigration. The current migrant crisis may still not be enough to sway them. This means those hoping for Congress to finally settle this issue once and for all might be in for some disappointment.
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