DACA Deadline Passes; DREAMers Continue in Limbo

Tuesday, March 5, was the date that President Trump set for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to expire. DACA, however, did not expire. In fact, nothing happened in regards to DACA at all, and it remains on borrowed time.

Many Republicans, as well as Donald Trump himself, place blame on Democrats. “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military,” he tweeted in January.

We should not forget, however, that it was President Trump who created the situation that DACA is now in, by overturning DACA and setting the March 5 deadline for DACA to expire. The follow-up by Congress has been inaction, due to a large split on how to proceed. Many Republicans refuse to address the DACA issue separately from the issue of a border wall.

Temporary Reprieve, but Time is Running Out

For the immediate future, most DACA recipients (often referred to as DREAMers), have a temporary reprieve. Following Trump’s shutdown of DACA, Judge William Alsup, a Federal judge in California, ruled that the Trump administration had used a flawed legal argument to do so. Alsup ordered the Department of Homeland Security to restart DACA, and to continue to process DACA renewals for program recipients.

The Trump Administration appealed the ruling, going directly to the Supreme Court instead of following the normal protocol of appealing to the Circuit Court of Appeals in California. The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, advising the Department of Justice to follow the regular process of appeals.

DACA Remains in Place, but DREAMers Still at Risk

 The Supreme Court ruling keeps DACA in place for at least six more months. For most of the nearly 700,000 DREAMers, this means that their DACA protections remain for now. Still, with lawmakers taking additional time to agree on a permanent solution, all DREAMers are in a perilous limbo.

At least 10,000 DACA recipients have filed for renewals of their status. As a result of the stop and restart of DACA, however, Washington has a considerable backlog of renewal applications to process. Some DREAMers’ status has expired as they await processing, and this means that, even though they’ve followed the rules, they’re currently without their deportation protections.

The fact that DACA recipients have adhered to protocol may not matter to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. This week in northern California, agents rounded up 232 people in an ICE raid. And ICE is not just pursuing undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions; it is also going after innocent undocumented immigrants, even if they’re DREAMers.

With other issues now figuring more significantly in the 2018 midterm elections, Congress will likely put off dealing with DACA again. This means that eventually, DREAMers, many of whom have chosen professions such as teaching, or who have volunteered to serve in the American armed forces, will lose their status and ability to work legally in the U.S. – and the freedom and ability granted by DACA to be valuable, legitimate contributors to the society that has formed the only place they know as “home.”

With DACA Protections Still in Place, Recipients in Limbo | PBS News Hour [2018-03-03]

White House on Supreme Court’s Refusal to Hear DACA Appeal  | Fox News [2018-02-26]



Government Shutdown: Fanning the Blame

Following the three-day government shutdown over the past weekend, fingers have been pointing in all directions. The House spending bill that would have extended the shutdown deadline to February 16 included measures that addressed various immigration issues, including funding for the Mexican border wall that was a cornerstone of the Trump Campaign. The bill did not, however, address the legal status of those who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), so most Democrats voted against it. Congress did not have enough votes to pass the funding bill, and this resulted in the government shutdown.

On Monday, Democrats and Republicans reached a temporary agreement that President Trump signed. The agreement would restore funding for the federal government until February 8. In the meantime, the daunting task of coming to a bipartisan solution for DACA recipients and border security, as well as for a longer-term agreement government spending, faces Congress.

Insults and blame for the continued lack of a permanent solution continue to fly across the news and social media outlets.

“This is the behavior of obstructionist losers…” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stated, referring to the Democrats who voted against the spending bill.

“A failure  of gargantuan proportions on the part of the Democrats” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“It would be hard to figure out who is responsible for the shutdown, unless someone involved said, ‘our country needs a good shutdown.’ Then, it would be pretty easy,” tweeted Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Democratic Congresswoman from Florida, and former Democratic National Committee Chair).

Some of the responses to the government shutdown approached hyperbole in their attempts to vilify the Democrats who voted against the spending bill. The Trump Campaign, for example, issued the following ad over the weekend, on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

In its support of Trump’s border wall, the ad seems to blur the distinction between DACA recipients and illegal immigrants who are criminals. It suggests that “Democrats who stand in our way (of building the wall, and, presumably, voting against the GOP spending bill) will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

New Trump Campaign Ad Blames Democrats for Murders Committed by Illegal Immigrants  |  Wochit Politics [2018-01-20]

Some Democrats see Monday’s stopgap agreement as capitulation by their fellow Democrats who voted in favor of it, since it doesn’t promise or include definite support for DACA. The immigration issue could also further divide the GOP within the party, since some Republicans want more extreme immigration reform than what most Republicans currently support.

Will today’s vote to end the government shutdown lead to even more division within parties? Can lawmakers put aside their differences, or at least refrain from tweeting them in the form of blame and insults, long enough to draft a bipartisan spending agreement that will avert another government shutdown?

Shields and Brooks on government shutdown blame, Trump’s first year |  PBS News Hour [2018-01-19] 

Gorka: Americans Understand Shutdown Isn’t Trump’s Fault | Fox News [2018-01-21]