By Delaney Gagnon
Amid partisan debate over the future of United States immigration policy, the 800,000 young immigrants once protected by DACA will soon face the threat of deportation. After rescinding the Obama-era policy meant to protect immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, the Trump administration set a March 5 deadline for Congress to construct a permanent solution. However, as the date draws nearer and congressional Democrats and Republicans have yet to present a solution, many Dreamers still face uncertainty.
Debate over immigration led to a three-day government shutdown, which ended after Democrats agreed to vote on a spending bill with the promise of Republican commitment to immigration reform. The spending bill funds the government until February 8, leaving less than two weeks for Congress to come to a compromise.
Despite a historically bipartisan effort to pass the Dream Act, legislation that would permanently protect DACA beneficiaries, the prospect of getting such a bill passed now appears unlikely. The Trump administration proposed a framework for an immigration bill which provided a path to legal citizenship for Dreamers. However, Democrats rejected the deal because the proposal also included funding for a border wall, massive cuts to legal immigration, and the termination of a program that allows family members to join relatives already living in the U.S..
Trump has expressed sympathy for Dreamers. In one tweet, the president asked, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military?” However, the sentiments expressed by the president via Twitter fall in stark contrast with campaign rhetoric and the White House’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
To encourage progress on the immigration bill, Democratic senators are inviting DACA recipients as their guests to Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Senator Kamala Harris of California will be bringing Denae Johnson, the DACA recipient and activist for black undocumented immigrants who immigrated from Belize with her family as a child.
“Dreamers like Denea represent the best of who we are as a nation, said Harris in an official press release. “We must continue to fight to give her and the hundreds of thousands of other young people like her who are living in fear, the security they need to live up to their full potential.”