President Donald Trump is looking to give Congress a window to resolve DACA’s shutdown before recipients lose their status on March 5, 2018. The administration formally announced the end of DACA on September 5, 2017. This leaves Congress with roughly six months to work on a solution.
What is DACA?
DACA is short for Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals. It’s an immigration policy that was established by the previous administration in 2012. President Barrack Obama used an executive order at the time to pass the policy.
Under certain guidelines, DACA gives some immigrants the ability to request a deferred action. The benefits of a deferred action, including work authorization, given to those who apply, are granted for two years. A deferred action is a type of prosecutorial discretion, which delays any “removal action” from the applicant for this two-year period. Essentially, a person can continue to renew their DACA every two years to continue working and living in the United States, as long as they meet the guidelines.
However, the one thing the deferred action does not provide is a lawful status. For more than six years, the policy has protected about 690,000 young undocumented immigrants. They have been known as “the Dreamers” after a previous Dream Act was stalled in Congress before the arrival of the DACA policy.
With its removal, DACA benefits will expire March 5, 2018, and renewal requests will continue to be processed until October 5, 2017.
Some Congress Options For DACA
In the days after the announcement, several plans by legislators are awaiting approval. One solution is a 2017 Dream Act sponsored by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. According to sources, this act is very similar to what DACA had offered applicants but looks to add a path to citizenship to the mix. After meeting certain requirements, the Dream Act would allow for permanent legal resident status. One of the requirements for citizenship would be to have lived in the U.S. for about 13 years.
The Recognizing America’s Children Act has also been proposed. Sponsored by Florida Representative Carlos Curbelo, the act aims to offer “Dreamers” citizenship after ten years.
The American Hope Act, backed by Illinois Representative Luis Gutierrez, has fewer eligibility requirements, which includes work, military or education necessities. It also provides the fastest option for citizenship, enabling an application after five years.
Colorado Representative Mike Coffman supported another possible alternative for DACA, the BRIDGE Act. BRIDGE stands for Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy.
Of all the bills mentioned, this one does not include a possible path to citizenship. It looks to improve from DACA by extending the period to three years before a renewal is necessary.
Only Time Will Tell
With more proposals and ideas raised for the support of DACA every day, Congress has been given several options. In a poll days before the decision, about 58 percent of Americans voted in favor of DACA.
Although citizens can provide some support and help for their local legislators, the rest is up to Congress. On the other hand, some of the divides on what will be done between both the two parties are debatable.
According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to re-write our immigration law,” adding “Today’s action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the announcement a “shameful act of political cowardice,” and hopes the issue can be resolved to keep “Dreamers” from facing deportation.
Whether or not both parties will work together to achieve a solution, the next few months will have Congress determine the fate of the dreamers.
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