Friday, April 12, 2024

DACA Ruling Puts Weight of Immigration Reform on Democrats

Last week, a federal judge in Texas blocked new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The decision puts in limbo status of hundreds of thousands of DREAMers, including 50,000 new DACA applicants who had not yet been enrolled in the program.

The court decision has put new urgency behind an effort in Congress to deal with immigration through the budget. The ruling comes as Democrats are weighing using the budget reconciliation process for an immigration package, a decision that needs just 50 votes but requires confirmation from the parliamentarian that the policy includes enough fiscal components to merit the move.

Greg Chen of the American Immigration Lawyers Association stated, “Without question the DACA ruling from Judge [Andrew] Hanen in Texas really adds urgency to the need for Congress to act and I think it puts more pressure on Congress overall to provide a permanent solution here.” He further added that the legislation should include DREAMers, farmworkers, TPS holders, and essential workers.

Overall, Democrats could make 10 million people eligible for a path to citizenship which is almost everyone who would be impacted by a bill from President Biden that has stalled in Congress. The risk for Democratic leaders in not delivering results is two-fold: Immigrant communities may not be willing to participate in future elections without immigration reform and a significant number of Democratic officials could push back from within the party. “It is in the hands of the Democrats to push this. How this gets done, through reconciliation or through whatever other means, that’s not really much of a discussion, just get it done” said Ben Monterroso, senior adviser at Poder Latinx, a grassroots organization that focuses on Hispanic voter participation.

Domingo Garcia, president of LULAC stated, “DACA is just a basic fairness and social justice issue that needs to be dealt with so we’re not leaving children and students in legal limbo. If we can get three or four Republicans to join Democrats that would be enough to pass it and it gives cover to moderates. It’s not an immigration bill, it’s an infrastructure bill, a budget bill. So, it has a fig leaf of political protection.”