July 23, 2019 | 67° F

Senate fails to pass immigration bill that affects hundreds of DREAMers at Rutgers

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The Senate’s inability to pass one of multiple compromises on immigration means that more than 600,000 DACA recipients will be left unprotected after March 5. 

After two government shutdowns and months of back and forth negotiation, the Senate failed to pass the highly anticipated immigration bill on Thursday — jeopardizing the legal status of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

The floor blocked four options brought to the table, including President Donald J. Trump’s immigration plan and a bipartisan alternative, according to Vox. The two plans are not tremendously different but the main issues — the state of DACA DREAMers and border security funding — continue to hinder progress on a permanent solution. 

The Grassley bill, backed by Trump, grants a pathway to citizenship for approximately 2 million immigrants and appropriates $25 billion to tighten border security, according to the Washington Post. It would have tightened family-based legal immigration and ended the diversity visa lottery program — a lottery-based program that randomly selects migration entries from countries with low immigration. 

The vote was 39-60 against the bill, 21 votes short of passing.  

The "Common Sense" Plan, the bipartisan effort, also failed to rally enough votes to secure a stable solution for DREAMers. This plan would have legalized the same number of DACA recipients and allocated $25 billion for southern border security — in phases over the next decade, as opposed to the immediate funding that Trump wanted. 

The plan also rolled back family-migration flow, but not to the extent that Grassley bill emphasized. The "Common Sense" plan did not include anything about the DV program.

The bill failed 54-45. The White House threatened to veto the plan. Shortly before the vote, Trump tweeted, calling the plan a “total catastrophe,” according to the Washington Post.

Moving Forward.

The lack of agreement between Republicans and Democrats in this seesaw like battle over technical tweaks could result in the loss of legal protection for more than 500 DREAMers at Rutgers.

The bill's failure could fling thousands of immigrants into a legal limbo if a consensus does not pass by March 5 — the expiration of Obama’s DACA program. 

Although this deadline is less than two weeks away, Ross Baker, a professor in the Department of Political Science, said he expects the heat to be turned up and real work to start closer to the cutoff date, according to a previous interview with The Daily Targum

“Congress never does anything until it’s absolutely the last minute,” Baker said.

United States Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) issued a statement following the failed bill. 

“This bill contained provisions I detested, but it succeeded in providing an immediate solution for nearly two million DREAMers whose lives continue to hang in the balance … the fact that President Trump and all but eight Republican senators stood in its way — in the way of 1.8 million DREAMers being permitted to stay in the only country most of them have ever truly known — is a tragedy and injustice of epic proportions,” he said. 

Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi and Chancellor Debasish Dutta have continuously stated their support for DREAMers. 

In an email last month, Barchi said that Rutgers is a "national leader in advocating for the protection of the DACA program" and that students are essential in making a difference, as previously reported by the Targum

“Over the course of the past year, our community has generated more than 33,000 letters to members of Congress urging the House of Representatives and the Senate to adopt bipartisan legislation to solve the DACA dilemma,” he said.

Dutta previously said he encourages all eligible Rutgers—New Brunswick students to contact the Rutgers Immigrant Community Assistance Project (RICAP) for free consultation and assistance.

Last month, Dutta announced that Rutgers has hired a case manager to further support DACA students and assist them on a case-to-case basis. 

“Let me emphasize that Rutgers considers ending the DACA program to be inconsistent with American values,” Dutta said. 

Rutgers is one of several universities across the nation that have shown public support of undocumented students. Harvard, Yale, Brown and NYU are all higher education institutions that have criticized Trump’s efforts to end the DACA program, according to The Atlantic. 

“... the real question is, what have we done to belong here — how do you define ‘American?' Is it just because you were born in this country?” said Sergio Abreu, a School of Engineering senior, in an article with the Targum. 

He said that for many immigrants who were brought to the country as babies and go through the American school system, a piece of paper is the only thing that prohibits them from being considered American citizens. 

“In the end, it does not matter what party passes what. We just want a permanent legislative solution that does not set an expiration date on our safety. Everyday that nothing is passed, 122 DACA recipients lose their status ... Congress failed DREAMers and their constituents,” said Esder Chong, a Rutgers Business School sophomore. 

She said she is praying and waiting for the country to take her seriously as an American without papers. 

“My message to DREAMers today is simple: we won’t stop fighting for you until you are recognized by the laws of this country for what you are — Americans,” Booker said. 

Erica D'Costa

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