In the end a fix for DACA was never really considered. Despite the President’s comments on Friday it appears that a DACA fix was never a serious point of negotiation. As one of the three key factions in any budget negotiation, the President could have drawn a line in the sand and demanded a fix. The White House offered an extension of the DACA provisions until September 2020 in exchange for funding of the Mexico-U.S. boarder wall (presumably the $25 billion requested earlier). But the idea of having DACA expire shortly before the next presidential election was a proposal that many in Congress would not accept. It is also unclear if the White House offer included the expansion of the DACA provisions would extend to the larger eligible population of 1.8 million immigrants as the earlier presidential proposal had included.
Other factors pushing back against a fix is that minority Democrats were unwilling to use the ultimate threat of a government shutdown as leverage and the fact that the courts have now kicked the issue down the road past the March 5, 2018 expiration date. The Supreme Court rejected the President’s appeal to overrule lower court rulings blocking the President’s action. Now we await action by those lower courts (9th Circuit Court of Appeals) and the Supreme Court with their current session ending in June. That likely means that DACA remains in place until at least the new fall session of the Supreme Court and it is possible DACA could be front and center just before the 2018 election instead of 2020. At this point the approximate 700,000 DACA covered people can reapply to extend their protections. During the CWLA National Conference, we will host several speakers from United We Dream to talk about the status of DACA.
Key DACA provisions: Applicants had to be at least 15 years of age; be able to prove they were under age 16 when they came to the US; they had to be living continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2017; an applicant also had to be under age 31, had to be in school, graduated or completed high school or have been honorably discharged from the US military; and any applicant cannot be guilty of a felony, three misdemeanors or a significant misdemeanor. The “DACA-mented” young person did/does not get lawful status but are protected from deportation.
Initially 800,000 people qualified. 689,000 were still covered when the Administration ended the program in September 2017. Some of the decline is due to people not re-applying or extending out of fear of ICE or they may have obtained citizenship. Due to lower court rulings those who are currently covered can re-apply. The Trump Administration’s past compromise proposals would expand eligibility for up to 1.8 million people in exchange for more than $25 billion in a wall “trust fund” that would cover the construction costs into the future. It is unclear where the Administration gets its 1.8 million figure.