Immigration negotiations between Congressional lawmakers and the Trump Administration are intensifying as the January 19 deadline for a budget deal approaches. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have indicated that the success of any funding agreement will hinge on a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which the Trump Administration announced would end on March 5, 2018 without Congressional action. The White House is expected to host a bipartisan group of lawmakers this week to determine a path forward on the issue.
Despite the looming shutdown deadline, Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on immigration provisions needed to secure a deal. At a January 6 meeting with top Congressional Republicans, the president indicated that any protections for DACA beneficiaries, known as “Dreamers,” would be attached to funding for a wall along the country’s southern border, as well as an end to the diversity visa lottery and the family visa system. These proposals are likely to be non-starters for Democrats.
Last year, two immigration bills were introduced in the U.S. Senate that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals: S. 1615, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for individuals who are undocumented, have DACA status, attend school in the U.S., or are in the military, among other provisions; and S. 1852, the Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation (SUCCEED) Act, that would create a 15-year process that allows young undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States, provided they meet certain work and educational requirements.
Other proposals that would protect Dreamers and enhance border security are currently under consideration; however, the path forward on these legislative proposals remains unclear.
NACo’s Human Services and Education Steering Committee adopted a policy resolution at the 2017 Annual Conference to support the DREAM Act or similar legislation. The resolution specifically calls upon Congress and the president to enact legislation that would allow certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children to attain legal status if they pass background checks, demonstrate good moral character, and meet education requirements.
NACo will continue to monitor developments on DACA and the nation’s immigration policy.