Imagine someone telling you that on such-and-such date they will change your life for the worse. They will take you away from the only place you know as home. Force you to abandon your school or work. Take away your security and force you to leave the people you love. They will make you leave America and live in a country filled with people you don't know. Everything you've come to know as normal and comfortable will suddenly be gone.
What's worse? That same person keeps going back and forth on wanting to help you. First, they say you must leave. Then, they say they will come up with a way for you to stay, but then they go back and say they won't agree to any deals.
That back and forth is enough to drive you crazy. Never knowing your fate. Not knowing if you should continue life the way it has always been or be prepared for it to change. Not knowing who to turn to for help. Hearing people either fully defend you or agree with kicking you out. You live life in turmoil.
You can get angry. You can protest and write letters. Plead with the media and desperately explain your circumstances. But it seems like those pleas fall on deaf ears.
That is exactly how DACA recipients are feeling. Ever since President Trump announced his plans to end DACA, their lives have never been the same. And every discussion from then till now has been tangled and little resolution has been set in stone.
In December, Trump said he absolutely will not make any deals on DACA without funding for his wall. Throughout his entire campaign, "the wall" was a big part of all of his speeches and promises. He also said he will not make any deals without ending "chain migration," in which United States citizens can request for any family members to get their green cards and visas, and the visa lottery system, in which a random country is picked to have visas available for the people to come stay in America.
He tweeted "The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!"
Also in December, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he will hold a vote in January on immigration legislation if the Republicans and Democrats reached a deal. Obviously, a deal was not made because it is already February and we are still having this issue. One issue that has been tangled with DACA is coming up with a solution to government spending.
The Republicans wanted to come to an agreement on the debt ceiling and government spending before they addressed DACA and immigration. Democrats have said they will not agree to any deals on government spending and debt ceilings until the issue of immigration and DACA has been resolved.
They just barely missed a government shutdown by pushing the original January 19 deadline to February.
While it seems like it was all turmoil in the government over DACA, there have been key players trying their hardest to help the Dreamers. Meetings led by Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Lindsey Graham — including Republicans Jeff Flake, Cory Gardner, James Lankford and Thom Tillis and Democrat Michael Bennet — are the biggest talks.
Republican members from Paul Ryan's immigration working group had a meeting at the White House days before Christmas to come up with a proposal. That meeting included Reps. Mike McCaul, Bob Goodlatte, Raul Labrador, Martha McSally and Mark Meadows. But it is predicted that the result will be rejected by Democrats.
Other bipartisan efforts, including the Problem Solvers Caucus and efforts by Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo and Texas Rep, were all making progress as well. Will Hurd in communication with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is also included. But no deal would ever make it to the floor in December. And neither side has ever endorsed any of the efforts.
The people who really want to help the Dreamers stay have hoped to hear the President voice his support. But hardliners on the President's staff, like close aide Stephen Miller, have included harsh policies Democrats view as "poison pills."
Early January there was a meeting at the White House with Key Republican senators that left them optimistic about reaching a deal about DACA along with some border security and immigration reforms.
But during the meeting, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona was accused of not being bipartisan. Lawmakers also could not agree on how to hammer out remaining sticking points.
Republicans feel a deal should include a resolution for DACA — which currently would be citizenship for young undocumented immigrants — along with increased border security that would include physical barriers, some limitations to family-based visa categories and the end of the visa lottery.
Flake said that negotiations were settling on limiting the issue of "chain migration" to the DACA recipients protected in the eventual deal. But James Lankford of Oklahoma rejected.
"This has to be broader than that because if you're going to deal with chain migration, you deal with chain migration. ... I can't count on the fact that we're going to do another (bill) in six months to resolve the rest of it." Lawmakers are discussing ending the diversity visa lottery but not taking away the 50,000 visas for legal residency already distributed. Graham said the deal would "use them more rationally" and Flake said it would be part of a trade for resolving a type of immigration protection for nationals of countries who suffer major disasters.
In January, Trump emphasized that his support of a citizenship path for about 690,000 immigrants is contingent on securing $25 billion for his wall and $5 billion for border upgrades. He also continues to push to limit legal immigration. Trump's proposal for citizenship would be limited to the 690,000 who were enrolled in DACA when he terminated the program but not for the immigrants under the DREAM Act who do not have DACA.
Democrats and some Republicans have pushed to extend legal protections to a far larger group of dreamers — up to 1.7 million under the latest version of the DREAM Act. A proposal was presented to Trump that included $1.6 billion for a wall and offered a path to citizenship for all Dreamers. Trump quickly rejected that plan. He also rejected a last-minute offer from Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who offered $25 billion for border security and the wall.
And finally, Trump made his first State of the Union Address where he listed his four "pillars" of an immigration proposal he submitted to Congress.
His plans are:
- Offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.
- Fully secure the border. That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country — and it finally ends the dangerous practice of "catch and release."
- End the visa lottery — a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system — one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.
- Protect the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.
Take all this back and forth and there is only one conclusion you can come to. The March 5 deadline Trump imposed is quickly approaching and the Dreamers still don't know what their future looks like. These are students, doctors, teachers, parents, sisters, brothers, best friends. Just hard working people that only know America as their homes. They were brought here without having a say and have established themselves here. They just want the government to come up with a deal to help them stay.