Thursday, February 29, 2024

Democrats and advocates dig in ahead of Supreme Court’s decision on DACA

Democrats and pro-immigrant activists are digging in on their negotiating positions ahead of the upcoming Supreme Court decision on President Trump’s order to revoke the “DREAMers” program.

The Supreme Court is due to hold a hearing Nov. 12 to decide on the legality of Trump’s order on the program formally known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), after lower courts have forced the Trump administration to continue issuing renewals of it. Democrats and pro-immigrant advocates feel confident the court will rule against the White House.

But even if it doesn’t, Democrats believe the sympathy generated by DREAMers will eventually force GOP moderates in the Senate to support emergency House legislation to protect a program that has proven popular with voters. “I think there is a growing bipartisan sentiment that these DACA recipients need protection and I think we’d pass [emergency protections], I really do, on a bipartisan basis,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters and DACA recipients at a press conference last week.

Trump rescinded DACA in 2017, giving Congress six months to replace the Obama-era program with legislation pairing border security and immigration protections for DREAMers. Lawmakers then dug in to negotiate a comprehensive bipartisan bill, but the White House eventually withdrew its support for a deal that would have tied protection for DREAMers with funding for a border wall along the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Previous immigration negotiations had tied a road to legalization for undocumented immigrants with tougher immigration enforcement, a paradigm that’s guided immigration negotiations since the Reagan administration. The Trump administration is betting the Supreme Court will uphold the rescission of DACA, allowing GOP conservatives in Congress to demand substantial increases in immigration enforcement and reductions to legal immigration in exchange for protections for DACA recipients.

But with few bipartisan immigration success stories since Reagan, Democrats have grown weary of the paradigm that’s yielded harsher enforcement but fewer legal immigration options. “Democrats are realizing that they need to give less in order to get more legalizations and additional legal immigration,” said Alex Nowrasteh, the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute.