CHN: Immigration Issues in Flux

Despite bipartisan support and high-level talks between Congressional leaders and President Trump this week on immigration issues, a legislative solution for Dreamers remains elusive. President Trump announced in September that he was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, though he said he would support legislation to protect the nearly 800,000 young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who currently benefit from DACA.

On January 9, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration from ending the DACA program on March 6, as it previously announced it would, if legal challenges are still unresolved. The judge’s ruling also means the administration must temporarily resume accepting renewal applications, though it can continue to refuse to accept new applications. Currently, 122 Dreamers are being discontinued from DACA each day – more than 14,000 so far.

Both advocates and Congressional Democrats are very firm in seeking permanent legal status such as the Dream Act for those who would qualify for DACA, and they are pushing to attach a DACA fix to the stopgap spending bill that will need to be passed later this month to fund the government into February. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had said a DACA fix should be dealt with apart from a spending bill.

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 policy allowing immigrants with legal status to 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. Democrats have opposed including money for a border wall in any deal.

In another threat to immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security announced on January 8 that it will end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for more than 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador who’ve been in the U.S. since at least 2001. 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. The designation was granted to Salvadorians after an earthquake devastated the country in 2001 and has been renewed for 18-month intervals since then. The individuals affected will have until September 2019 to either attempt to change their residency status so they can stay in the country legally, leave the country, or stay in the U.S. illegally after losing their work permits, health insurance, and driver’s licenses. These decisions will have enormous consequences on communities and as many as 192,000 U.S.-citizen children of these TPS recipients. A statement by CHN called the decision by the Trump administration “immoral and un-American.” The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) called the decision “part of a larger agenda by the Trump Administration to create fear and disrupt immigrant families and communities.”

DHS has already ended TPS for several African nations this year and announced in November that TPS designation extended to 2,500 Nicaraguans will be terminated on Jan. 5, 2019. For more on TPS, see the November 13 Human Needs Report and UnidosUS.