Many members of Congress (especially Democrats) voted against the CR/budget agreement because it lacked a firm commitment by congressional leadership (and the President for that matter) on action on DACA recipients. Shortly before the vote on the CR, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WS) said, “I can’t speak to what our rule is going to look like; I can say that we are going to bring a DACA bill to the floor because we want a solution to this problem.”
That statement left enough room for some Democrats and Republicans in the House to vote yes. It wasn’t enough for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who had spent the day before speaking on the House floor for eight straight hours in support of DACA recipients. She voted no as did some senate Democrats. Ryan has said he wants to take up something that will only be agreed to by the President. For critics that is an elusive requirement and a major problem.
Majority Leader McConnell has set this week for the start of a debate on the Senate floor. Where that debate starts as far as a bill is at best cloudy. He has generally said that whatever gets 60 or more votes is what the Senate will send over to the House. In 2013 the Senate approved bipartisan immigration legislation with 68 votes only to have House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) sit on the legislation and he took no House action despite heading for an eventual mid-term retirement.
Hanging in the balance is the fate of the approximate 700,000 or so DACA recipients who will face the full impact of the President’s March 5 deadline eliminating the protections. There are a potential 1.8 million who could fall under protection including at least 9,000 school teachers and several thousand in the military. Chief of Staff John Kelley offered up some derogatory comments of some of those DACA eligible people, another ongoing set of mixed signals from the White House over the past several weeks.
The Trump Administration has insisted, at times, on a swap of DACA protections for all their principles which include a large $25 billion trust fund for wall construction, increased enforcement that will likely result in more raids and families being split. They are also seeking restrictions on current family migration practices and an elimination of the diversity visa program.
The key provisions laid out by the White House include would place the $25 billion into a trust fund for the border wall system. In addition they are seeking funds to hire new DHS personnel, ICE attorneys, immigration judges, prosecutors and other law enforcement professionals. DACA changes would include legal status for DACA recipients and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, a 10-12 year path to citizenship, restricting family migration, eliminate the lottery and reallocate the visas to reduce the family-based “backlog” and high-skilled employment “backlog.”
Look for increased attention on this debate this week as the Senate starts the debate. Join with CWLA and other advocates this week when we send out an alert.