On Thursday, December 21st, Congress completed its discussions for the year. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA, was not made part of them.
The program protected eligible immigrant youth that entered the country as minors, ensuring that they could work and would shield them from deportation so long as they were students, high school graduates, or veterans, and maintained a clean record. In September, the Trump administration announced plans to rescind these protections, permitting only a six-month window for renewal, and then instituting a more formal repeal.
While the window was intended to ensure that no permits would expire before March, more than 20,000 recipients have been unable to or have not submitted for renewal. This amounts to an average of 122 recipients losing protections each day.
While primarily liberal lawmakers claimed that they would not support ending the year without finding a resolution for the continuation of DACA, the clock has seemingly run out. In their frustration over this, a reported “31-member group of House and Senate Democrats walked off the House floor Thursday afternoon and headed across the Capitol to Schumer’s office,” in hopes of “pressuring him to persuade more senators to vote against the GOP spending plan that was set to be approved in the coming hours.” The most that was achieved was the sentiment that there would be a push to vote against the repeal later this month, when discussions are set to continue.
Without a definite replacement program in place, it is likely that with the passing of time, the amount of protection lost will only increase. Negotiations were set to occur during the holiday break, wherein solutions were weighed, such as “pairing a DACA fix with conservative asks like border security, interior enforcement and some elements of immigration reform.” Senate leader Mitch McConnell pledged to “call a bill to the floor if the working group can reach a deal that’s acceptable to both sides.” Overarchingly, Democrats are mostly looking to send a message about continuing negotiations in January. Lost time cannot be afforded.
In a brief, but resounding quote, Representative Tony Cardenas of Los Angeles told Senator Schumer that “Latino lawmakers expect ‘no more mañanas’ when it comes to immigration.” This was echoed by the statement, “We’ve seen more mañanas on things related to immigration from the House and Senate for more than a decade. We’re tired of it.”
The decision is yet to be made, and it doesn’t do well to forget about it. DACA has been and should continue to be a system of well-deserved aid for the undocumented.