The federal budget showdown, initially sparked by a needed fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, is culminating in an omnibus spending plan that still leaves Dreamers in the dust. The budget includes $1.5 billion in draconian border security enhancements that ignore the plight of our immigrant communities.
Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, called the plan a “slap in the face to the immigrant community.”
“While Congress congratulates itself, this budget funds the deportation machine, criminalizes immigrants, and neglects the 800,000 hardworking Dreamers still stuck in limbo. America will not be greater or safer by undermining our immigrant communities. We need Congress to get back to work and put a DREAM Act on the table,” Choi said.
Leading up to this, Congress’ gridlock has been made worse with upcoming midterm elections, possibly preventing serious legislative action on what is seen as a divisive issue. However, these political games are tearing up families and rupturing the fabric of our immigrant communities.
In January, legislators leveraged DACA as a negotiating point in return for a continuing resolution amid the federal budgetary vacuum. However, failing to hold their ground, the shutdown did not last more than three days, with only empty promises to continue debating immigration reform.
Next month, the opportunity again slipped through lawmakers’ hands, leaving DACA recipients floundering. Instead, they chose to agree on spending deals that push the nation’s annual deficit past $1 trillion. Also in February, the possibility for a feasible Senate bill conducted via the open amendment process also fell through, as proposals after proposals were unable to solicit enough votes to be viable.
When Trump announced the end of DACA on September 5 last year, he imposed a deadline of March 5, a date now largely seen as symbolic, pending court injunctions temporarily keeping the program in place. However, as we know, DACA recipients have already been losing their status at an estimated rate of 122 per day. Such a deadline was issued in a futile attempt to pass the buck to Congress, an expectation that seems more impossible by the day.
Court orders are now the only thing keeping DACA recipients safe from deportation. They trusted the federal government with personal information, including biometric data, to comply with all the rules and regulations set before them to the best of their ability. And now, those who they trusted are extending their betrayal, leaving them in a legal void that risks their livelihoods. Congress must act immediately to pass a clean DREAM Act to put a stop to the constant anxiety and fear our DACA recipients must live with on a daily basis.