Congress has 1 day left to propose its plan for DACA DREAMers

<p>At Rutgers and across the country, recipients of the DACA program await a decision from Congress regarding the program’s future. Everyday, 122 people lose protection from deportation and access to legal work as the program nears its expiration.</p>

At Rutgers and across the country, recipients of the DACA program await a decision from Congress regarding the program’s future. Everyday, 122 people lose protection from deportation and access to legal work as the program nears its expiration.

Congress has until tomorrow to strike a deal that determines the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) DREAMers. 

The next update in finding a permanent solution for DREAMers at Rutgers and nationwide will be Feb. 8. This is the spending-bill deadline that pro-immigration advocates hope will pass by the House of Representatives before the DACA program expires on March 5.

Each day that Congress does not act on DACA legislation, 122 people lose protection from deportation and a legal job, according to statistics from the Center for American Progress.

Demands vary between the White House, immigration hardliners, pro-DREAMer advocates and a bipartisan group, which has made finding a solution for more than 500 DREAMers at Rutgers and 690,000 nationwide especially difficult. 

For those hopeful that a government shutdown similar to the one that occurred on Jan. 22 will occur, Ross Baker, a professor in the Department of Political Science, said tomorrow is a different situation where he does not expect a shutdown nor an agreement to be reached.

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

For Baker, because of the lack of agreement between the different groups on Capitol Hill, he bets the final showdown will be around the expiration date of the DACA administrative program, March 5.

The most promising agreement, inclusive of demands from both sides, is an immigration proposal brought forward by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The bipartisan bill became complicated after a meeting with President Donald J. Trump backfired when Hogan Gidley, the White House deputy press secretary, said that the legislation was “completely dishonest” and did not go far enough in funds for a border wall and security. He added that it did not address “chain migration,” according to a Politico article

In a previous interview with The Daily Targum, Baker said the debate around a solution for DACA was confusing because no one knew where the White House officially stood in terms of immigration reform.

This changed when Trump delivered his four-pillar plan for immigration reform in his first State of the Union address — a necessary ingredient for Congress to be on the same page as its executive counterpart.

The four-pillar plan revolves around creating a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers, $25 billion in border-wall funds, the elimination of the diversity visa lottery and the limitation of family-based immigration.

Though there are 690,000 existing DACA-recipients today, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data, Trump said in his address that there are an estimated 1.8 million DREAMers residing in the U.S. that would be qualified for his proposed phased-in pathway to citizenship plan, according to Migration Policy Institute data.

The original criteria for DACA-eligibility is any individual who came to the U.S. while under the age of 16, lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, was under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012, is currently in school or the armed forces and has never been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor.

On Tuesday, members of Congress inched closer to passing a bipartisan deal for the government's spending budget. Trump met lawmakers with his stance on the possibility of a second shutdown if his immigration policies were not met, according to an article from The New York Times

"I’d love to see a shutdown if we can’t get this stuff taken care of," he said in a meeting with lawmakers and law-enforcement officials to discuss gang violence. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety, then shut it down.”

The bill looks to increase military and nonmilitary spending caps through September 2019 as a means for Congress to bypass Thursday's deadline and segway into a long-term bill over the next two years, according to the article. 

Lawmakers have yet to detail a definitive plan that would maintain government operations past Thursday should the bill not pass, according to the article. 

“I would shut it down over this issue,” Trump said in regards to striking a deal for DACA DREAMers. “If we don’t straighten out our border, we don’t have a country." 

It is a push-and-pull battle between how many DREAMers will be granted legal status or even citizenship, versus technical tweaks made to the status of legal immigration and how much funding will be latched on in the deal for the border wall and security.

“It’s discouraging making these pushes and seeing politicians kick the can down the road,” Sergio Abreu, president of UndocuRutgers and a School of Engineering senior, said.

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