Two Months From The End Of DACA And No Serious Proposal On The Table

(Photo/Gage Skidmore)

We are now just two months away from the March 5 deadline for those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), with no clear solution for the looming crisis of status.

After that date, which signals the official end of DACA as announced by Jeff Sessions in September, 7,000-10,000 young people will lose their legal authorization each week to be in the United States as their work permits expire.

Four months ago, President Trump said that he wanted a legislative solution for the young people whose DACA protections will end. Since then, he has done nothing to move forward with a permanent, or even interim, remedy.

On January 2, the president and Kirstjen Nielsen, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, addressed DACA, but not in the most promising way. As part of his Tuesday Twitter storm, Trump tweeted “Democrats are doing nothing for DACA – just interested in politics. DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start ‘falling in love’ with Republicans and their President! We are about RESULTS.”

No policy proposal, no legislation backed. All the president indicated is that the failure to arrive at a DACA compromise is the Democrats’ fault and that failure will make “activists and Hispanics” fall in love with the president who ended DACA. Not likely.

On December 29, 2017, the president Tweeted that “The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!”

When the president decries “chain migration,” what he is really talking about is family-based immigration. For roughly a century, United States citizens have been able to bring in their close relatives as immigrants. Trump set the ending of the current system of family-based immigration as a non-negotiable demand before he will consider giving legal status for those with DACA.

Nielsen also spoke out on immigration yesterday. She said that a deal protecting the young immigrants is “very important. The American people have said they wanted it. I think we should find common ground. The devil’s in the detail.”

Speaking to ABC News, she said that a DACA deal could only follow an agreement to build the southern border wall. The president wants $1.6 billion to begin construction.

In September, the president said that he would not consider a DACA proposal that granted citizenship as part of the deal. Secretary Nielsen appeared to differ from that, saying that several proposals were now being considered, including both a purely temporary program to provide status for three or four years and one with a pathway to citizenship.

Speaking of the president, Nielsen said that “I think he’s open to hearing about the different possibilities and what it means but, to my knowledge, there certainly hasn’t been any decision from the White House.”

Nielsen said that “It will be interesting to see where (Congress) can get comfortable with what they mean by what is a permanent fix but the idea would be that you move away from a temporary status.”

While the new secretary’s words are a little more hopeful than those of the president, it is disturbing that just 61 days from the end of DACA, there is no framework for compromise on the table. The negotiations are supposed to move forward today. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, as well as Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, will meet today with White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and White House legislative affairs director Marc Short to discuss DACA.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.