Why It Is Urgent That Congress Act This Year
When asked about the prospects and timing of legislation protecting Dreamers, Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have in recent days advanced the notion that there is no urgency to act, because Trump established a March 2018 deadline for Dreamer-related protections.
That’s a false and dangerous idea. It’s now or never for the Dream Act.
As any observer of past immigration reform battles can attest, Republicans have a long history of delivering happy talk about getting something positive done for immigrants, only to get to “no” at the end of the day. Republican leaders have proven unable or unwilling to confront their anti-immigrant base and remain so divided on immigration issues that the prospect of two GOP-controlled chambers advancing standalone immigration legislation that is actually beneficial to Dreamers doesn’t pass the laugh test.
So if Congress doesn’t do it now — by attaching Dreamer legislation to must-pass legislation this year — it’s highly unlikely they are going to do it at all. If Republicans somehow manage to kick the can to next spring, what’s predictable is that they’ll load up an inadequate DACA fix with enough poison pills to ensure opposition. This would put them in their favorite position: “we tried to do something but Democrats are to blame for it not happening.”
Here are three additional reasons why action is needed now and talk of the “March deadline” is an excuse for inaction that will continue to put Dreamers in harm’s way:
- Approximately 10,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status. 22,000 DACA recipients missed the Trump Administration’s arbitrary and unfair October 5thdeadline to renew their status. As the Center for American Progress recentlyestimated, this means that 122 Dreamers every day will lose their DACA protections between October 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, meaning that that we have recently passed the 10,000 mark of Dreamers who have already lost their status and related protections.
- Dreamers are already under threat and the December spending package threatens to become a vote to deport Dreamers. Voting for immigration enforcement included in the omnibus spending bill without relief for Dreamers will end up being a vote to fund the deportation of Dreamers (see recent op-ed in The Hill by David Leopold for more).
- It will take seven months to implement Dreamer legislation and confer new status. Research from the National Immigration Forum and the Niskanen Center finds that it would take a minimum of seven months to set up and implement Dreamer legislation from the date a bill is signed into law.