Updating the DACA Issue
As expected, immigration was a central focus of President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening, as he walked listeners through the latest DACA proposal. “For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem,” Trump said. “This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.”
The President has been using DACA negotiations to push his controversial immigration agenda, and Democrats and Republicans have been battling over the issue for months. Since it was announced that the program would terminate in March, neither side has been willing to compromise. The first round of negotiations ended in a standstill and a government shutdown. The government reopened days later so that negotiations could continue, but optimism is fading, and the latest deal proposed by the President illustrates the divide that separates the parties on the issue.
In exchange for a path to citizenship for nearly two million “Dreamers,” President Trump is asking for $25 billion to fund the border wall project, an end to the diversity lottery program, and huge regulatory changes to the family-based immigration system. The regulatory changes alone would reduce legal immigration by 44 percent annually and put an end to so-called “chain migration.” In practice, that would be accomplished by limiting family sponsorships to spouses and minor children. Family members would no longer be able to sponsor siblings or parents.
The response from House Democrats to the latest DACA proposal has been overwhelmingly negative as they slammed and criticized the President’s plan. Even some GOP senators worry that cutting family-based immigration by such a drastic margin could potentially stifle economic growth — a risk neither party would be willing to take.
With the February 8th deadline rapidly approaching, the chances of reaching an agreement seem bleak. The parties remain heavily divided on the issue and no real comprise is within sight. The likely outcome is that more time will be needed to negotiate the issue. For the Dreamers, however, there is still hope. Congress has a week to figure things out but if a deal can’t be reached, lawmakers will need to find another solution to avoid a second government shutdown. One possibility is that the parties agree to extend DACA for a year and continue negotiating a long-term deal. Congress could decide to pair a temporary extension of DACA with government funding and push a long-term deal further down the line.
Berardi Immigration Law will continue to monitor the debate over DACA closely. Be sure to subscribe to our blog and weekly newsletter for the most recent updates delivered right to your inbox!