The Fate of Dreamers Hangs in the Balance

  • Jan 12 2018

Will lawmakers solve the DACA issue?

In September 2017, President Trump signed an executive order ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program established by the Obama Administration, and gave Congress 6 months to come up with a legislative solution.  As lawmakers continue to grapple with immigration reform, having proper legal representation is crucial now more than ever for those with concerns over their immigration status.

DACA Options

Although the president has previously stated that he did not support citizenship for DACA recipients, it has been reported that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen believes the White House would consider immigration legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for the hundreds of thousands of young people affectionately dubbed “Dreamers.”

Republican and Democrat lawmakers are said to be considering three options: permanent residency, residency for a certain amount of time — perhaps three or four years, subject to renewal — and citizenship. Nonetheless, details on qualifying for citizenship, such as how many years to wait and the like, have yet to be addressed. At this juncture, it is unclear whether progress is being made on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile the priority of the Trump Administration remains border enforcement, including funding for construction of a wall along the southern border, which Democrat lawmakers vehemently oppose. Currently, barriers cover some portions of the border with Mexico.

Secretary Nielsen visited prototypes of the proposed border wall in San Diego. The White House plans on requesting $1.6 billion next year for the barrier, in addition to $1.6 billion being sought  this year to build or replace 74 miles (118 kilometers) in California and Texas in what has been termed a “downpayment.”

While Ms. Nielsen remains hopeful that the White House and Congress can reach a deal that includes border and immigration enforcement measures, building a wall remains “first and foremost,” she said.

“I remain optimistic. You have to be,” Nielsen said. “It’s very important. The American people have said they wanted it. I think we should find common ground. The devil’s in the detail.”

The administration is also seeking to end what is believes are “loopholes” on issues such as asylum claims and local police working with immigration authorities. Secretary Nielsen has stated that any permanent protection for DACA recipients should be limited to those who qualified during the three years it was effect, and not those who have arrived afterward. She also believes any measure should include permission to work.

“Everybody wants to find a solution – a permanent solution – to DACA,” she said.

The Takeaway

As DACA and immigration reform remain politically charged issues, it remains to be seen whether Congressional lawmakers will be able to craft a workable solution before the March deadline. In the meantime, questions over immigration will continue to require the advice and guidance of dedicated immigration attorneys.

Posted in: Immigration Law