Fix DACA and Move On

Our government has the opportunity and the obligation to transcend the politics of division and address this.

The debate about DACA drags on despite overwhelming agreement on the substance of the issue. The American public strongly supports a legislative fix. A Fox News poll in September 2017 found that 83 percent of Americans support some pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found more than four-fifths of adults – 86 percent – support allowing DACA participants to stay in the United States if they had arrived as a child, had completed high school or served in the military and had not committed a serious crime.

This national consensus is also reflected in strong bipartisan support for DACA. Even when President Trump announced the termination of the program this past September, he provided a window for Congres.s to legislate on the matter and made additional comments in support of favorable congressional action. Almost immediately, various bipartisan groups of lawmakers introduced legislation to do just that. In a recent meeting with congressional leaders, the president signaled his interest in finding a legislative compromise to the DACA conundrum. As recently as this past weekend, the president said that he is "ready and willing to make a deal" on DACA.

And yet, the obvious solution for DACA – costing no additional money and causing no partisan rift – remains elusive. If our politics can't handle a subject as substantively uncontroversial as DACA, how can it navigate the many challenges actually dividing policymakers? In higher education alone, we face uncertainties around the implementation of the new tax law, a higher education reauthorization, regulatory and administrative actions and a stalemate on the federal budget. In contrast to the disagreement we might expect on those and other issues, most people agree that we can and should solve DACA. Why, then, can't policymakers quickly dispense with the debate, take a vote on DACA and achieve victory?

The window for fixing DACA is fast closing. The current DACA program expires on March 5, 2018. The Department of Homeland Security will need several weeks to implement any new legislation and ensure continuity in DACA. Current budget discussions provide an ideal window to address this challenge as part of the FY 2018 appropriations process.

Congress and the president have the opportunity and the obligation to transcend the politics of division and address this challenge once and for all. In so doing, they would not only meet the moral demand to do the right thing, they may even find a path forward on the more vexing challenges facing the nation.

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