DACA Deadline Looms as Immigration Debate Continues

The Senate this week kicked off the chamber's first real debate of immigration policy since 2013. Education groups are keeping up the pressure on lawmakers to figure out a solution for the hundreds of thousands of young people protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that is set to expire March 5, Politico reported.

AACRAO strongly encourages all members to take action. Reach out to your U.S. Senators and Representatives using our online Call to Action form and request Congress to act quickly and approve legislation that will permanently protect DACA recipients from deportation.

Democrats are pushing to preserve the program that protects from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, while Republicans support President Trump's more hard-line immigration framework. Trump's decision in September to end DACA sets its expiration for early next month, but the program is caught up in the courts. Two federal judges—including one on Tuesday—have ordered the administration to resume accepting renewal applications for DACA. Tuesday's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in Brooklyn means the administration must process applications for renewed and initial DACA protections as long as litigation over the Obama-era program is ongoing, The New York Times reported. The legal challenge to Trump's order to wind down DACA was brought by Democratic attorneys general and immigration advocates.

Lawmakers, however, are sputtering forward on plans to find a more permanent legislative solution to protect so-called Dreamers. Senators are expected to vote today on four proposals offered as amendments to an unrelated bill, which will serve as a legislative vehicle to test the viability of any reaching the 60 votes needed to secure passage, The Associated Press reported. The chamber will consider measures offered by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA); John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE); Patrick Toomey (R-PA); and a bipartisan amendment from the so-called Common Sense Coalition.

Sen. Grassley’s Trump-backed proposal echo's the White House's immigration framework, incorporating a "lasting solution" for young immigrants living illegally in the U.S., building a border wall, eliminating the diversity visa lottery, and reforming family-based immigration. A more modest plan by Sens. McCain and Coons would allow many Dreamers to qualify for permanent residency and direct federal agencies to more effectively control the border by 2020. The legislation would not provide a special citizenship pathway for Dreamers, raise border security funds, or make sweeping changes in legal immigration rules. Sen. Toomey's proposal would add language blocking federal grants to "sanctuary cities," communities that fail to cooperate with federal efforts to enforce immigration laws.

The compromise plan from the Common Sense Coalition, reached on Wednesday by a bipartisan group of 16 Senators with centrist views, would protect 1.8 million Dreamers from deportation and provide $25 billion for border security. The agreement would prevent Dreamers from sponsoring a parent who knowingly brought them into the country illegally, but does not include the broader changes to legal immigration or interior enforcement favored by President Trump and House Republicans, The Hill reported.

As of Thursday morning, none of the proposals had a clear path to the 60 votes needed for approval.


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The New York Times


The Associated Press


The Hill