On October 8, the White House issued a list of immigration proposals that could complicate efforts to reach a legislative compromise with Democrats on Capitol Hill over the futures of nearly a million young undocumented immigrants.
The introduction of these proposals comes just over a month after the Trump Administration announced its decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by March 2018. The announcement had put intense pressure on Congress to codify DACA’s executive order provisions into law before DACA beneficiaries, known as “Dreamers,” faced possible deportation.
The administration’s new list of immigration proposals includes construction of a border wall, the enactment of fast-track deportation procedures for unaccompanied minors who cross the border, and a cap to the number of refugees the United States would accept. Other provisions would end federal grants for sanctuary cities and enable state and local governments to enforce immigration laws.
Several of these proposals were previously ruled out in an agreement reached last month between Democratic leaders and the president to protect Dreamers. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had approved enhanced border security measures in exchange for protecting Dreamers, but said in a joint statement that the newly-released immigration principles may be non-starters for congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, many of whom support some form of protections for Dreamers.
There are several pending proposals in Congress that would create permanent legal status for DACA beneficiaries, but lawmakers have yet to reach a compromise on how to move forward.
Earlier this year, on July 20, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2017” (S. 1615), 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.
On September 25, Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced the “Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers, Employment, Education and Defending our Nation (SUCCEED) Act” (S. 1852), 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 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.