Congress Can’t Decide on DACA Deal

Failure of agreement creates cloudy future for Dreamers.


Rebecca Lorenzo, Contributing Writer

Nearly 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program have feared loss of benefits and deportation for the past few months. The due date for a deal has passed, however, and no plan is in sight.

In early September, President Donald Trump announced that he would eliminate the Obama-era DREAM Act, which grants two-year renewable amnesty to children of undocumented immigrants, called “Dreamers,” who were brought to the United States against their will before the age of 16. With DACA’s elimination, nearly 1.8 million immigrants face losing benefits, such as work permits, in-state tuition and driver’s licenses, and deportation.

However, since Congress failed to legislate a plan, the Supreme Court ruled that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must continue to renew permits for existing Dreamers, which could save them from deportation for another two years.

Over the past six months, the DHS has ceased to accept applications for new DACA members, but continued renewing existing two-year permits for Dreamers whose permits were set to expire between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, with heavy restrictions. After March 5, permits would no longer be renewed. Luckily, the Supreme Court ordered otherwise in response to the due date drop.

In typical fashion, Trump tweeted blame.

According to MSN, Rep. Pete Aguilar, a top promoter of a bipartisan House bill on DACA, responded civilly.

“The president created this crisis. The White House can say anything they want, but reality is they created this crisis six months ago.”

Trump’s unlikely requirements for the DACA decision likely stalled legislation on a decision. The president tweeted in December that he will only consider providing a path to citizenship for existing Dreamers if funds for a border wall are included.

Heavy debate surrounded Trump’s plans to pay for the wall, which he inaccurately estimated to cost $8 billion. According to analysts at the research firm Bernstein, an accurate price tag is between a whopping $15 and $25 billion, not including costs for wall maintenance in the future.

It is questionable if and when Congress will formulate a plan for Dreamers, as bills in favor of including funds for a border wall must be voted on by Democrats to pass the Senate, according to Business Insider. Additionally, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto spoke openly against paying for the construction of the wall despite Trump’s repeated demands.

“Mexico does not believe in walls. I’ve said it time and time again. Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he said.

House Intelligence Committee Rep. Peter King said he never expected to see Democrats agree to fund Trump’s border wall with $25 billion, just as he never expected the White House to accept a plan that gave 1.8 million Dreamers a path to citizenship, according to The Hill.

As a result, there is currently no deadline in place for a decision on DACA. Although existing Dreamers can apply for renewal, fear of deportation still lingers, said Juan Escalante, a Venezuelan DACA Recipient and Communications Manager for America’s Voice, a group advocating for immigrant’s rights.

“DACA renewals are still being processed thanks to multiple counts intervening on the matter, but this is not a permanent solution,” he said.

“Trump’s deportation force will continue to prey on Dreamers whose DACA benefits lapse even [if] they find themselves in the midst of a renewal process.”