With the expiration of the 6 month waiting period for the controversial DACA program looming, Congress has a short window to pass legislation that would give a legal status to the so called “Dreamers”. These individuals who were brought to U.S. soil illegally by their parents will lose the protections given to them by the 2012 Homeland Security Memorandum “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children”. When President Trump rescinded the memorandum in September 2017, he did so with a 6 month waiting period to allow Congress the opportunity to do the job they have been established to do… to make laws.
Congress has so far failed to act on immigration bills due to one side or the other digging their heels in the sand and refusing to come to a compromise. For a long time, the Democrats have been in the position of support for the childhood arrivals, or so called “Dreamers”, as they have seemed to support legalization of their status, but have recent developments caused them to lose the upper hand?
President Trump released an outline of the plan he supports in January which includes 4 major points:
- Secure the Southern and Northern borders of the United States using “combination of physical infrastructure, technology, personnel, resources, authorities, and the ability to close legal loopholes that are exploited by smugglers, traffickers, cartels, criminals and terrorists.”
- Provide legal status to the estimated 1.8 million DACA-eligible individuals. This includes a 12-year pathway to citizenship for these individuals.
- Protect the nuclear family immigration and clear the backlog in the system.
- Eliminate the VISA lottery and use the resources to help clear the family-based backlog and the high-skilled employment backlog.
The President’s proposal would go above and beyond the Obama Administration’s DACA protections by including more than double the number of individuals who would be eligible for the program. While one would think the Democrats would be jumping at the opportunity to help more “Dreamers”, most of them signaled that the proposal was dead upon arrival because they would not support it with other provisions that the President outlined.
According to the 2016 Democratic National Committee’s official Party Platform, their stance on immigration is:
“Democrats believe we need to urgently fix our broken immigration system—which tears families apart and keeps workers in the shadows—and create a path to citizenship for law-abiding families who are here, making a better life for their families and contributing to their communities and our country.”
“We must fix family backlogs…”
“…defend and implement President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans executive actions to help Dreamers, parents of citizens, and lawful permanent residents avoid deportation.”
Based upon these 3 points in the DNC platform, one would think that the Democrats would be standing up applauding President Trump’s immigration reform plan, but it is quite the opposite. This calls into question whether the Democrats are really trying to fight for the little guys, or if they are trying to fight against the big guy.
One of these “Dreamers”, Hilario “Eli” Yanez is wondering if the Democrats are in his court as well.
"As far as the Democrats, I’m a little confused as to what their message is. I'm a little confused as to what they believe in.”
Cecilia Maciel is another “Dreamer” who weighed in on the President’s proposed wall on the Southern border and immigration reform:
“Because it’s such a rough political climate, we have to compromise with whatever you get. I think it’s a start but not what I’d like to see.”
President Trump might be in a position to draw support away from the left side of the aisle with his immigration reform bill. The Democrats don’t like it and seem to be fighting tooth and nail against it, but are the “Dreamers” seeing this as the Democrats fighting for them, or just using them as pawns in their game against the President? Only time will tell, but March 5 gets closer by the day.