The #TrumpShutDown is over, but is a DACA fix on its way?

When the President ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September 2017, nearly 800,000 individuals who had applied and received DACA suddenly had the rug taken out from beneath them. These are young undocumented Americans who were brought to the United States as children and   became eligible for authorization to work, travel, and be protected from deportation. For background and materials about the President’s decision to end DACA as well as resources for those seeking help, please check out this blog post.

This video explains why the President is ultimately responsible for the government shut down:

And this video explains what’s at stake for immigrant communities if we don’t succeed in passing a clean DREAM Act in Congress:

On Monday, January 22, after a weekend of intense negotiations, a majority of Democrats in the Senate  voted to grant the federal government the authority to spend money until February 8 but without including a fix to the DACA rescission in the bill.  In return, the Democrats appear to have secured a commitment from the Senator Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), to allow a debate on the DREAM Act.. For undocumented  families, this is cause for significant concern.  The President and the House of Representatives do not appear to be ready to honor Sen. McConnell’s agreement.

In response, OneAmerica issued this statement.

Further Background:

As early as September 2017, the President said he supported action by Congress to provide a lasting solution for undocumented immigrant youth impacted by his decision.  He began this year by telling a bipartisan group of Senators that if they brought him an agreement, he’d support it.  But every time he had the opportunity to sign-off on an agreement, he changed his bottom line.  First he demanded the construction of a southern Border Wall, then significant expansion to immigration enforcement, then the end to the Diversity Visa Lottery program, and then the end of family-based immigration visas.  Without clear direction from the President, negotiators in Congress were at a loss for how to proceed.

Dreamers and immigrant advocacy and organizing groups decided to focus on getting a DACA fix into the federal spending bill, as our best leverage to get a clean DREAM Act passed.  The DREAM Act, versions of which have been circulating in Congress for years, is a bipartisan proposal to grant a pathway to citizenship for up to 2 million undocumented immigrant youth living in the United States.

Under federal rules, Congress must pass spending bills in order to allow the government to function.  In September, Congress was unable to come to agreement on the details of a federal spending bill.  Congress instead decided on September 8 (seventeen Senators voted against) to extend the government’s authority to spend funds under current law through a short term continuing resolution that expired on December 7.  Unable to come to agreement, Congress then passed another continuing resolution on December 7 (fourteen Senators voted against) that expired on December 22.  Then they passed a third continuing resolution on December 22 (32 Senators voted against) that expired on January 19.

On Friday, January 19, after months of organizing protests in Washington, DC and across the nation and here in Washington State, Dreamers and immigrant rights organizations and a broad coalition of allies succeeded in pushing the majority of Democratic Senators to demand a bipartisan deal on DACA to be included in the federal spending bill as a condition for their vote.  Last Friday, the Senate attempted to again extend federal spending through a continuing resolution but failed because 49 Senators – both Democrat and Republican – voted to oppose the continuing resolution.  Between December 7 and January 19, our movement flipped the votes of 35 Senators.

What’s Next?

Congress has until February 8th to finalize a spending bill, but it’s not clear when Majority Leader McConnell will allow the DREAM Act to be debated and voted on in the Senate.  The media reports that a debate “will happen in February if the issue is not resolved by then”.  We can’t let up this fight.  Too much is at stake.  Join us and demand that Congress take action on the DREAM Act.

In the meantime, at least for the time being, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has begun accepting renewal applications for DACA under orders earlier this month from a federal district court in San Francisco that ruled that the President’s decision to end DACA was probably not legal.  The US Department of Justice, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has requested that the case be immediately heard by the United States Supreme Court.

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