Momentum Grows to Protect Dreamers

Momentum is growing for a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects about 750,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, The Hill reported. DACA recipients currently receive two-year, renewable deferment from deportation and gain work permit eligibility, but the policy is not law.

A group of 10 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), are challenging the effort and have threatened a lawsuit unless the Trump administration abolishes the DACA program by September 5.

The Trump administration has not stated whether or not it would defend the program in court. The resulting concerns that the program could be terminated has led to a flurry of recent legislative proposals to protect immigrants under the program, commonly known as Dreamers, through legal status or a path to citizenship, reported The Hill.

Last month, a bipartisan pair of senators unveiled a new version of the Dream Act, which would create a pathway for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to become permanent residents and apply for citizenship. U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Lucille Roybal Allard (D-CA) last week introduced a companion bill in the House.

Additionally, House Democrats on Friday presented the American Hope Act, garnering 117 co-sponsors within the Democratic Caucus so far. The bill would provide immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 18 and before December 31, 2016 an opportunity to apply for legal status if they meet certain requirements.

Meanwhile, a bill presented by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) in the House in March, the Recognizing America's Children (RAC) Act, is gaining support among centrist Republicans. The legislation would grant provisional status to applicants who were in school, worked continuously or enlisted in the military. All applicants would have to pass rigorous background checks, have no criminal record, could not receive public welfare and would have to submit biometric data.

It is unclear if lawmakers will be able to coalesce around any one bill, though, but having multiple bills is a "good first step," said Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.), a co-sponsor of the RAC Act.

"I think there may be opportunities, hopefully this year, to actually see some legislation take place," said Díaz-Balart.


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