CHN: Immigrants Hurt by the Lack of a DACA Deal, a Decision by DHS, and the Tax Cuts Bill

Immigrant communities have been hit hard by a number of policy changes in recent months. Members of Congress and President Trump still have yet to agree upon a legislative solution for Dreamers, months after the President announced in September that he was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. At the time, the President gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative solution for the nearly 800,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who currently benefit from DACA. While it was once thought that a DACA fix, such as the Dream Act, could be added to a year-end spending bill, Senate Republicans said in early November that the President made it clear this was unacceptable. President Trump has repeatedly said he wants any immigration deal to include increased funding for border security, including a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as ending “chain migration” in which immigrants with legal status can petition to bring relatives to the U.S. Other proposals from the GOP may include codifying DACA for current recipients but not for all eligible recipients, and not providing a path to citizenship. These proposals fall short of the Dream Act, which immigration advocates say needs to be passed before the holidays to prevent further damage to DACA recipients and their families. A statement from the National Immigration Law Center said, “The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of young people and their families hang in limbo, and a solution simply cannot wait until next year.” For more on a year-end spending package, see the related article in this Human Needs Report.

In another blow to the immigrant community, the Department of Homeland Security announced on Nov. 6 that the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation extended to 2,500 Nicaraguans will be terminated on Jan. 5, 2019. The individuals affected, many of whom have been in the U.S. for decades and have children who are U.S. citizens, will either have to leave the country before this date, attempt to change their residency status so they can stay in the country legally, or stay in the U.S. illegally after losing their work permits, health insurance, and driver’s licenses. According to the Washington Post, TPS was created by Congress in 1990 to avoid sending immigrants back to countries severely damaged by natural disasters, wars, or health outbreaks; it gives those with TPS status employment authorization and protection from deportation. TPS status was extended to Nicaraguans and Hondurans after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and has been routinely renewed ever since. Hundreds of thousands of other individuals with TPS status await announcements deciding their fate: 57,000 Hondurans were given a six-month extension on Nov. 6 through July 5, 2018, to give DHS more time to collect information; 50,000 Haitians with TPS status expect a decision on their future in the coming weeks; and 200,000 Salvadorans have TPS status that is due to expire early next year. DHS has already ended TPS for several African nations this year. Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) has introduced the American Promise Act, which would ensure individuals who have lived in the U.S. under TPS for at least three years can stay in the country and pursue a path to naturalization. To learn more about TPS, visit UnidosUS.

Provisions in the House and Senate tax cuts bill would also harm immigrant families and children. In the bills, the Child Tax Credit is changed to deny the benefit to about 1 million “young Dreamer” children in immigrant families who do not have Social Security numbers. Under current law, parents who do not have work-eligible Social Security numbers and pay taxes through the use of an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) can claim the refundable Child Tax Credit for their children. Denying the CTC to these families despite their parents’ work punishes children. The House bill also newly requires college students making use of the refundable portion of the American Opportunity Tax Credit to have a work-eligible Social Security number, preventing the Dreamers from getting this help. Together, these changes are estimated to deny between $21-$24 billion in tax credits over 10 years to the affected families. That increase in revenues will go to pay for the tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations. For more information on the House and Senate tax bills, see the related article in this Human Needs Report.

Dream Act
tax policy