After a weekend of recriminations and acrimony, lawmakers agreed to approve a continuing resolution (CR) and ended the government shutdown without addressing the DACA fix for undocumented youth.
There is no way to sugar-coat the feelings of young immigrants. DACA-DREAMers were really hurt by what they see as the caving of their supporters to the White House and the GOP’s anti-immigrant agenda. Their advocates in the U.S. Senate (including some Republican Senators) agreed to a verbal commitment to deal with a DREAM Act-type legislation by mid-February.
Just a few weeks from now, the whole drama of last weekend may repeat, as lawmakers will continue to deal with funding and budget issues on February 8.
Do not blame DREAMers for doubting the GOP’s commitment to address their issue in February. The White House had previously promised a “Bill of Love,” but DREAMers found themselves being used as bargaining chips in exchange for funding for the border wall and other immigration enforcement measures.
Negotiations for an agreement on the CR were difficult since the White House position shifted by the hour, a product of the intervention by far-right political activist-turned-White House senior advisor Stephen Miller and hardliner retired general-turned-Secretary of Homeland Security-turned Chief of Staff John Kelly.
The only bright spot in the agreement reached Monday in Congress was the decision to fund CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) for six years, which will benefit children low-income families. CHIP, which hadn’t been funded for 142 days, was pitted against the DACA fix during the CR negotiations.
What’s next is uncertain. Congress has until February 8 to work out differences over DACA, other immigration issues, military spending and social programs.
Neither the House of Representatives nor the White House is aligning themselves with the Graham-Durbin immigration bill. It is expected that the House will present a conservative stance on DACA.
At the end of last week, negotiations with the leader of the Democratic minority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, offered funding for the border wall in exchange for DACA. But the conversations collapsed for the DACA fix, and the offer was taken off the table, apparently for the unseen future.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to consider the extraordinary step of holding a hearing on the DACA repeal by the Trump administration, with was challenged by a San Francisco judge some weeks ago. This is an extraordinary step, since normally decisions are taken to the Circuit Court of Appeals. But the administration is trying to bypass the Ninth Circuit, which is considered the most liberal in the nation.
What should DACA-DREAMers do?
1. Continue to pressure for a solution for your immigration situation, participating in advocacy efforts. DREAMers and advocates: Do not forget to DONATE to the cause.
2. Be informed, but do not get distracted. Follow the latest developments on Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund. Do not take your eyes off important and practical things to do, such as renewing DACA if you fell out of the program or if your expiration date is upcoming. Consult the USCIS site for the latest instructions on renewing your DACA.
3. Take the opportunities DACA offers. Enroll in post-secondary education, either trade schools, community colleges or university classes. Education is yours to keep forever.
4. Be strategic about your educational options. Find classes that can have a quick impact on your job skills and marketability. I always suggest coding classes as a great option. With some training, you can start working and even start a business.
5. Look beyond DACA. Become a self-employed business owner. You will be less worried if you do not need an EAD and can form an LLC. The challenges presented now can be capitalized for a better future for you and your family.
6. Always have the contact information of a good lawyer handy, just in case. You can consult our guide How to Choose an Immigration Lawyer.