CHN: Immigration Issues in Flux
Advocates who had pushed for the inclusion of a legal fix for Dreamers who have benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program were upset that one was not included in the stopgap spending bill passed in the early hours of Feb. 9, and many Democrats in the House voted against the spending package because the DACA fix was left out.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) previously agreed to take up the DACA issue next week in order to get the support of Democrats on the previous stopgap spending measure. In the Senate, a shell bill that does not include immigration language will be brought up next week and both sides will be allowed to offer alternate proposals through amendments in an open floor debate. In the House, however, no such promise was made. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) has said he would take up an immigration bill only if it had the support of his GOP majority and President Trump. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who gave a record-breaking eight-hour-long speech on the House floor on Feb. 7 in which she read the stories of Dreamers and called for their protection, voted against the spending package on Feb. 9 because Ryan would not make the same commitment to an open floor debate made by McConnell.
President Trump announced in September that he was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on March 5. On January 9, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from ending the DACA program if legal challenges are still unresolved. The Department of Justice is appealing the ruling and has asked the Supreme Court to rule on the case. Currently, 122 Dreamers are being discontinued from DACA each day – more than 15,000 so far.
President Trump and many Republicans have also repeatedly said they want any immigration deal to include increased funding for border security, including a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as ending the family reunification policy allowing immigrants with legal status to petition to bring relatives to the U.S. Democrats have opposed including money for a border wall in any deal.
In other news, the Supreme Court agreed on Jan. 19 to review the Trump administration’s latest travel ban, which bans people from six majority-Muslim countries. The court is scheduled to hear arguments in April and rule by the end of June.
In another blow to immigrant communities, the Trump administration is considering new rules that would make it harder for immigrants to come to or stay in the U.S. if they or anyone in their family – including their U.S. citizen children – use any number of public benefits they are legally entitled to, such as SNAP/food stamps or Head Start. A joint statement from the National Immigration Law Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy said this “dangerous proposal would force families, including citizen children, to choose between getting the help they need – like Head Start, food assistance, medical care, and housing assistance – and obtaining a secure immigration status for themselves or their families.” The proposed rule changes would have to be open to public comment for a period of time and approved by Congress to take effect.