Congress and White House Rush to Find a Solution for DACA as Immigration Enforcement Increases


Grace Fiori, Editor

The DACA situation continues as the new year commences. As previously reported, DACA recipients are facing the threat of deportation as their permits begin to expire in March 2018. The White House recently announced that about 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador, who had been granted a TPS, Temporary Protected Status, after the 2001 earthquakes that devastated their homes and country, will be forced to leave. This follows a similar pattern after the administration got rid of protections for immigrants from Nicaragua and Haiti last year.

Last Monday, January 8th, the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that Salvadoran immigrants, who escaped the devastation of earthquakes on their home, had until September of 2019 to obtain a green card, or leave- otherwise facing deportation. 

Many of those Salvadorans have lived in the U.S. since 2001, raising families, buying homes and holding jobs. There are around 190,000 U.S. born children born to Salvadoran parents under TPS protection. If these families are unable to obtain a green card, many immigrants will be faced with the decision of returning to El Salvador or facing being deported if they stay.

This is also a decision faced by many DACA recipients as a variety of individuals are in jeopardy of losing their permits to work in the U.S. starting March 2018. During that time, almost 1,000 DREAMers per day could face losing their status.

These are all part of an increased push by the Trump administration to lock down on America’s immigration system. Arrests by ICE and other immigration enforcement officers have grown by nearly 40%. As well as an outline for the first section of a proposed border wall between Mexico, which will is projected to cost $18 billion, sent from the White House last week.

Many of those inside and outside of Congress are fighting to save DACA and numerous immigrant activists and supporters have called on Democrats to block the approval of the government funds if they don’t reach a conclusion for DACA. This tactic could have a large influence, for Congress had passed a determination that the next spending bill must be approved by January 19th or face a government shutdown. Also, a federal judge in California blocked 

However, meetings that occurred on Tuesday, with the president and members of Congress from both sides, gave many a sense of hope. As New York Times noted, Trump invited senators and house members that were well known for the time and dedication they had invested in immigration. Those there included, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina, who has been a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. As well as Senator Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, who has criticized legalizing illegal immigrants. Additionally, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, a democrat, and Senator Richard J Durbin III, have long been strong supporters of legalizing the DREAMers. Everyone was feeling the urgency to find a solution for the DREAMers, and were pushed by the Democrats insistence to finish the bill by January 19th. Also, many Republicans are starting to worry that losing DACA could be harmful in their midterm elections (coming up this fall), with the strong possibility of losing voting districts where many immigrants reside.

Trump seemed to also understand the urgency of the situation, and throughout the meeting he seemingly flipped on his original opinions of DACA. CNN reported that Trump said, “I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with. If they come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it.” When Lindsey Graham challenged the President that he would face criticism if he supported their ideas on immigration, Trump insisted, “I’ll take the heat.” 

Even though throughout it all, the President continues to push for the border wall, with a “phase one” of his border security plan already in the works. Also, Democrats and Republicans are yet again clashing when it comes to the details of the bill, many Democrats in Congress want to see a clean DACA bill, while Republicans are still looking for concessions on immigration to be made. 

As discussions and plans continue throughout the week, the future of DACA will become clearer, as well as the exact stance Trump and his administration will take on American immigration reform that could define his first year in the White House.