Senators Introduce Another Bill to Protect Dreamers

U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) on Monday introduced legislation in an effort to resolve important immigration issues and allow lawmakers to devote their full attention to finalizing a budget deal to fund the federal government, according to a press release.

The bipartisan bill would settle two of the more pressing issues of the immigration debate, The Washington Post reported. The proposed legislation would provide recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, commonly referred to as 'Dreamers,' an opportunity for citizenship and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The McCain-Coons plan would grant legal status and provide a path to citizenship to undocumented immigrants who have resided in the country since December 31, 2013—a larger pool of Dreamers than the 1.8 million President Trump supports legalizing.

The measure does not immediately authorize spending the $25 billion Trump requested to fortify the border with new wall and fence construction. The bill also excludes measures to curb family-based legal migration and alter the visa lottery system—two other priorities for Trump and conservative Republicans.

Sen. McCain said in a written statement that the bill "would address the most urgent priorities" of legalizing the status of dreamers and make changes to border security—and allow Congress to move on. "While reaching a deal cannot come soon enough for America’s service members, the current political reality demands bipartisan cooperation to address the impending expiration of the DACA program and secure the southern border," the senator stated.

"It's time we end the gridlock so we can quickly move on to completing a long-term budget agreement that provides our men and women in uniform the support they deserve," McCain added.

The new legislation comes as lawmakers scramble to meet another short-term spending deadline. The current continuing resolution funding the federal government is set to expire on Thursday at midnight. Immigration has been a dominant subject of the months-long talks to set new federal spending levels, as Democrats have insisted on enacting changes in immigration policy to win their support ever since Trump announced plans in September to end the DACA program, the Post reported.

Further complicating the dynamics of a DACA legislative deal, a federal judge in January issued a nationwide injunction blocking the Trump administration from ending the program. President Trump has vowed to fight the court order, insisting that Congress must find a solution on the issue.

The March 5 deadline to end the DACA program is less than a month away. Despite heavy pressure from immigration groups, higher education organizations, and DACA recipients themselves, lawmakers have yet to act.

AACRAO joined a broad coalition of higher education organizations this week to send a letter to House and Senate leaders regarding the urgent need to pass legislation to provide a permanent solution for Dreamers. The association strongly encourages all AACRAO members to take action, as well. 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 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients from deportation.


Related Links

U.S. Senator John McCain’s Press Release

The Washington Post