Two congressmen have arrived at a bipartisan solution that will finally decide the fate of immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while providing a compromise to the Trump administration’s concerns about border security.
As Congress continues to debate over possible legislation to replace DACA, representatives Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Pete Aguilar (D-California) have convened to come up with their own bipartisan solution, presenting it as a discussion draft to the legislative body. The pair of lawmakers is hoping their collaboration across party lines accelerates the legislative process to come up with a law for DREAMers before March 5—the final day of DACA.
Their proposal is largely derivative of other proposed bills designed to replace DACA but failed to garner enough congressional support, an intentional decision the two congressmen believe will fast-track the legislative process as it leans on language that has already been approved by the body.
DACA and Its Potential Replacement(s)
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an immigration policy enacted as an Obama executive order, protecting undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors from deportation. Under DACA, these childhood arrivals are listed under the lowest priority for deportation. DACA beneficiaries can also legally work in the country through special work permits renewed every two years.
Trump’s Issue with DACA
Throughout the campaign, President Donald Trump had repeatedly criticized DACA, calling it an overstep of the former president’s executive powers.
Although he appeared to have softened his stance on the program upon taking office, saying that DREAMers (named after a defunct immigration program with the same goals as DACA) “should rest easy,” the administration announced in September last year that it would rescind the program, but only after giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative replacement.
Since then, legislators from both sides of the aisle have proposed bills to protect DACA beneficiaries and future immigrants with similar circumstances, offering paths to citizenship and other conditional immigration benefits.
Hurd and Aguilar’s bill would allow immigrants to apply for a green card and acquire citizenship after a certain number of years of conditional residency. These do not come for free, however, as applicants would have to meet specific educational and security standards in order to benefit from the program. These include the standard background check, educational attainment, and required military service.
The bill aims to narrow down both the scope of both the problem and solution in order to speed up discussion and have legislation passed as soon as possible. As Rep. Hurd said, “The strategy that we’re taking here is let’s put something forward that … has a permanent legislative fix for the 1.2 [million] kids that were brought here by no fault of their own.”
If you, or a loved one, are a DACA beneficiary concerned about your immigration status, schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to learn about your constitutional rights. Call our offices today to talk to immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.