Hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children are left in limbo as immigration reform once again failed to pass in the Congress this week. The fate of DREAMers is up in the air as Congress enters a week-long recess and a March 5th deadline for the DACA program, which protects those immigrants from deportation, looms.
Republicans in the Senate put forth a plan last week that would have granted nearly 2 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. It would also would have provided $25 billion in border security measures (including funding for a border wall) and reformed various immigration programs – all provisions supported by the White House.
That plan was rejected by Democrats in favor of a bipartisan plan that would offer a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers and $25 billion in border security funding. That plan however, would also limit DHS to deporting only criminal undocumented immigrants who arrived after January of this year, and would largely keep in place the U.S.’ catch and release policies for unaccompanied minors who arrive at the border.
The Department of Homeland Security estimated that the actual number such a bill would grant citizenship to would be 3 million individuals, and maybe even higher. In a highly critical statement on the bill, DHS said it would turn the U.S. into a “sanctuary nation,” referring to laws that preclude some state and local governments from communicating individuals’ citizenship status to federal authorities.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blamed Democrats for the various proposals’ failure in and the lack of progress. “They turned away from a golden opportunity to solve the issue,” McConnell said.
The Senate’s No. 2 leader, John Cornyn of Texas said next up for lawmakers is the opportunity to consider temporarily protecting DREAMers from deportation in another government spending bill that Congress has to consider next month.
“To me [that’s] not great,” he said. “But that’s kind of where we are.”
Multiple U.S. courts have struck down President Trump’s rescinding of the DACA program and said the program must stay in place until pending lawsuits are resolved. The U.S. Supreme Court has also agreed to weigh in on the issue and a final ruling by the Court in a case involving DACA it has agreed to hear could come by June.