Lawmakers postpone finding a solution for the program until after the holidays
Since the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in September, Congress has engaged in talks on how to protect the nearly 800,000 undocumented youth currently enrolled in the program.
While minimal progress has been yielded from these talks, the White House and congressional Republicans on Thursday, November 2 have decided not to include a solution for DACA in the end-of-the-year spending bill, and instead will table the issue until after the holidays.
“There was also a consensus that anyone on the other side of the aisle who thinks that they’re just going to codify DACA in the year-end appropriations bill, it may not be very well received,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Back in January, the president assured DREAMers that he’ll continue to protect them.
“[DREAMers] shouldn’t be very worried,” said Trump in an interview with ABC News shortly after his inauguration. “I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”
In July, when probed about his plans for DREAMers, he softened his stance and said that a decision on DACA is “very, very hard to make” but that he understood the situation “very well.”
Trump then broke his promise in a surprising decision to would phase out DACA, which was established in 2012 by former President Barack Obama to provide work authorization, protection from deportation and a host of other benefits to undocumented youth.
In a statement, he said that his decision was driven by a concern for all Americans, saying that “millions of Americans [have been] victimized by this unfair system.”
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the program has said that DACA, through its work authorization measure, “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans.”
Since 2012, more than 800,000 undocumented youth — called DREAMers — have received benefits. More than 22,000 young Filipinos are eligible for the program, and between 6,000 to 10,000 are currently enrolled, according to several reports from the United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) and the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The White House announcement to end DACA sent a shock signal to DREAMers and their families who worry about their educational and career goals set forth because of the program.
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued a statement condemning the decision by the president and congressional Republicans to not include DACA in the end-of-the-year spending bill.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-California) said that the “cruel decision” to end DACA left the lives of many Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth in limbo.
“It is reprehensible that the president is now attempting to use these young people as bargaining chips to advance his anti-immigrant agenda,” Chu, who represents Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley area in Congress, said in the statement.
“The White House should not play politics with the lives of our nation’s Dreamers. If the bipartisan, bicameral DREAM Act were brought to the floor today, it would have the votes to pass,” Chu asserted. “I urge my Republican colleagues to do the right thing and allow us to vote on a clean DREAM Act before Congress adjourns in December.”
DACA advocates in Congress also aren’t going down without a fight.
The progressive liberal wing of the Senate has decided to take a stand against Trump and the Republicans and warn they will oppose a government funding bill in December if a deal is not made on DACA.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) was one of the first senators to speak out against the delay in a decision for DREAMers, whose lives she said should not be used as political pawns.
“I will not vote for an end-of-year spending bill until we are clear about what we are going to do to protect and take care of our DACA young people in this country,” Harris, a long-time advocate for immigrants’ rights, said at a press conference two weeks ago. “Each day in the life of these young people is a very long time, and we’ve got to stop playing politics with their lives.”
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are among the senators to hold the president accountable for his promise to protect DREAMers he made early in his presidency.
“Trump must make good on his promise to sign a bill protecting DREAMers. I won’t vote for any spending bill without a permanent DACA fix,” Sanders tweeted on Friday.
Booker cited the “chaos and uncertainty” DREAMers are currently facing as they await government action on their futures, saying, “I want solutions to protect these kids, and won’t vote for a spending bill that doesn’t include one. It’s an issue of basic decency and morality.” (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)