Immigration has come to the forefront again as the government faces another possible shutdown this week. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has already stated she will vote no against a funding bill if it does not include language for DACA members, also known as Dreamers.
Another option, though, is temporary protection after President Donald Trump’s March 5 deadline passes.
The Dreamers became a bargaining chip in January during the shutdown fiasco in January, which showed the fractions within the Democrat party. Professor Jacobson blogged:
More deeply, the Democratic Party is split between the pragmatists and the base. The base is furious at what just happened, they feel betrayed, and they want to fight. A reporter for the Washington Examiner tweeted today:
I was at Netroots Nation in August. My biggest takeaway from the conference was that people underestimate how far Left the base has tacked …. Relevant today.
This base has representatives in the Senate; after all, 16 Democrats voted No on the funding bill, including likely 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris. They are the future of the Democratic Party, at least through 2020, and they represent the far left base. They know that’s where the energy in the party is, where the activist foot soldiers are, and where the social media dominance resides.
It looks like Harris will not back down and will take the same stance this time away. She told MSNBC that she would “have a problem” with a bill that didn’t protect the Dreamers and that they “have to protect these kids.” From Newsmax:
Harris said that deciding between the Dreamers and keeping the government open is a “false choice” and “we can do both.”
“They’re [the Dreamers] sleeping 10-deep on someone’s living room floor, walking through the halls of the United States Congress because they believe in our government, and these kids believe that if we see them and hear their stories, we would acknowledge that we should continue to protect them, as we promised we would,” Harris told MSNBC.
The senator said DACA should not be seen as a partisan issue and “it’s a mischaracterization of this issue to suggest there’s a left and a right on this. Frankly, I think there’s a wrong and a right, period.”
Politico reported that Congress just might punt “on its Dreamer dilemma.” Some senators seem to have come to this conclusion, too:
“That may be where we’re headed because, you know, Congress is pretty dysfunctional,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the few to publicly acknowledge the possibility of a temporary fix. “That’d be a real loss. But that’s probably where we’re headed, OK?”
Some senators are already deriding a yearlong patch as “misguided,” a “Plan Z” and a proposal that would keep immigrants “in fear.” But lawmakers have only until March 5 to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program under President Donald Trump’s deadline.
And in a Congress that has routinely struggled to keep the lights on, at least some lawmakers say a temporary fix for Dreamers might be all but inevitable. Lawmakers return to Washington this week with another government shutdown looming after Feb. 8 and a deal on Dreamers still far out of reach — a reality that could make a DACA stopgap increasingly appealing.
Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney, also thinks this will happen, especially since Trump has hinted for awhile that he will extend his deadline. I have seen conflicting reports on this. Last month, one week an official said that Trump cannot extend it while the following week the president hinted he would:
Trump also said he could give Congress more time to pass legislation that would protect DACA recipients if lawmakers do not act by his March 5 deadline for unwinding the program. He said he would not guarantee that he would extend the deadline he set in September, but added: “I certainly have the right to that, if I want.”
Fresco also noted that other immigration programs have been renewed on a temporary basis. One is the EB-5 visa program that “grants wealthy foreign investors a shot at green cards if they invest a significant amount of money in domestic enterprises.”
Another is the “Conrad 30 waiver for immigrant doctors in rural areas, as well as a visa for religious workers.”
Bipartisan Deal Presented Today
Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) presented a bipartisan deal today that addresses two main parts of the immigration debate. From The Washington Post:
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) formally introduced a bill that would grant permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border. But the measure would not immediately authorize spending the $25 billion President Trump is seeking to fortify the border with new wall and fence construction. Some Republicans are seeking at least $30 billion.
The McCain-Coons plan also would grant legal status to dreamers who have been in the country since 2013 — a larger pool of undocumented immigrants than the 1.8 million Trump supports legalizing.
Yup. No funding for a wall, which Trump has made crystal clear must be part of a deal. So it should come to no one’s surprise that the White House has shot down the deal. From CNN:
A White House official rebuffed the effort, telling CNN that it takes “a lot of effort” to write up a bill worse than the Graham-Durbin immigration bill, but somehow “this one is worse.”
Trump tweeted about the latest immigration efforts Monday, writing, “Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”
Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time. March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018
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