Senate Democrats are working against the clock to reach an agreement with Republicans that will provide citizenship for Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients.
In 2012, the program allowed undocumented immigrant children who came to the US to work and live in the United States. Despite ongoing litigation, the fate of this program is uncertain.
Vice President Joe Biden was at the time DACA was announced and has expressed his support for DACA recipients repeatedly. The program and its 600,000 beneficiaries remain in flux, nearly two years after the launch of DACA.
Democrats are betting that the lame duck session, which is the period between the midterms & before the new Congress starts, will be able to pass legislation regarding DACA recipients before their House majority.
“There’s a sword over these young people’s heads,” Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat in New Jersey, said. He cited ongoing litigation that could bring an end to the program.
“There is no way forward for them if they ultimately strike down the entire thing. So we cannot just wait and hope the court will do the right thing. He said that there were only a few legislative solutions available, but that they are not all.
“It’s a Senate game.”
Congress has failed for years to pass legislation that would allow citizens to become citizens or address immigration issues. The next weeks will be even more challenging.
Senate Democrats must have at least 10 Republicans present to break a filibuster or advance legislation. This is why Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, Menendez, and Senate Judiciary Chairman Menendez are resuming talks to try and get some Republicans to join them in passing legislation to aid DACA recipients.
Durbin stated that he knew of “four to five” Republican senators who would support a solution, but admitted that he didn’t know what the fix would look like.
Durbin stated, “We’re going looking for the right vehicle at just the right time, but I know the timing of it: We have to get it done before the end of the year.”
According to three sources, congressional aides are currently reviewing bipartisan border security bills in recent weeks to find a compromise to reach a DACA agreement with Republicans.
As immigration has become more contentious, any agreement will likely be limited. One source claimed that a recent court ruling ordering the Biden administration to repeal a Trump-era policy allowing border authorities to turn back migrants crossing the US-Mexico frontier may also be a factor in negotiations. Republicans previously sought a vote on this policy.
Democrats and Republicans have shown sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. Many of them were younger than 10. However, it has been difficult to reach a bipartisan agreement due to the schism between Democrats and Republicans regarding “Dreamers”.
In the past, Senate Republicans have stated that any immigration reform plan must include strict border security provisions and restrictions for asylum seekers. However, if Democrats accept such an approach they will face backlash from progressives, especially in the House.
While House Democrats are still supportive of a fix, one source stated that it was a Senate game.
“Dreamers” have been waiting a decade
Immigrant advocates are also increasing the pressure. They see the lame-duck session as the last chance to offer protections for DACA recipients for two years.
It’s all about political will. Greisa Martinez Rosas is the executive director of United We Dream, which is the largest youth-led immigrant network in America.
DACA was created in 2012 to offer temporary relief to undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. Many of these people are now adults.
A federal appeals court upheld the ruling of a lower court finding the program illegal and sent it back.
The Biden administration moved to protect the program despite the lack of legislation. The Department of Homeland Security published a new regulation earlier this year to maintain the policy and replace the Obama-era memo. The regulation is still subject to litigation and Congress must pass permanent protection.
“Is there a willingness for a way forward in the lame duck? Menendez stated that if that is the case, that’s the first question being asked. “The next question is: What will it take?”
“It’s only the beginning of the conversation. At any given moment, we don’t feel like it’s one or the other. Menendez said that this is only the beginning of the conversation.