DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

DACA-DREAMers in Limbo. Lawmakers Insist on Dealing With the Issue Next Year

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

This will not be a happy Christmas at immigrant youths’ homes. The suspense continues, along with the horrible feeling that their lives are being used by both parties as political bargaining chips.

Congress is putting off dealing with their “situation” – preventing 800,000 people from being marked for deportation and losing their permit to work legally in this country (among other benefits) – until after the holiday season.

According to Politico, Donald Trump’s chief of staff met yesterday with lawmakers from both parties, and a solution to the DACA-DREAMers’ problem was proposed for (likely) January.

Unfortunately, this is not a surprise. Congress has been unable to even deal with the passage of the omnibus spending bill, which ensures the government pays its expenses. They have only just been able to secure a short-term agreement to avoid a government shutdown.

There are conversations in Washington that after the holidays the politicians will negotiate government spending, DACA and immigration enforcement issues, as in a Monopoly game.

Let’s not forget that this crisis was sparked by Trump, who inhumanly directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to dismantle the DACA program in an effort to please his alt-right, extremist supporters and continue the dismantling of President Obama’s legacy.

Republican leaders feel relaxed, saying they still have time until March 2018, when DACA permits will be ending en masse at a rate of a 1,000 a day or 30,000 each month. Obviously, this is a callous attitude toward immigrants brought to this country as minors through no fault of their own. It also completely disregards their sense of urgency and fear after being forced into this situation.

Many DACA-DREAMers are already losing their permits (at a rate of 122 a day), and all their lives are filled with uncertainty. I bet many are putting important plans on hold.

Any DACA-DREAM Act agreement will not come easily: John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, will present soon a list of border security and policy changes the Republican administration wants as part of the deal, according to some policymakers present at the meeting.

This is a dilemma that immigrant youth activists feared the most: Their situation is being used by the Trump administration to harden immigration policy against their parents and loved ones.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake has been a participant in these conversations. Apparently, he feels he has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s commitment to hold a cloture vote on the floor for an immigration deal “before the next likely deadline to fund the government, January 19.”

Pardon our skepticism.

Along with the DACA-DREAM Act issue and border enforcement, the potential passage of the spending bill will include conversations about other immigration issues, such as an overhaul of the nation’s asylum system and a change in policy toward unaccompanied minors who are apprehended at the southern border.

Still, DACA-DREAM Act advocates will be pushing lawmakers to hold their vote on any spending bill (short-term or not) if it does not contain a solution to the DACA phase-off.

They will keep fighting until the very end.