Headline, Immigration

Democrats set December deadline for saving 600,000 Dreamers

225 groups demand Democrats protect immigrant youth including 5,000 South Asians in end-of-year package

Democratic US senators have set a December deadline for passing bipartisan legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for more than 600,000 Dreamers, including about 5,000 South Asians.

But Democrats don’t yet have enough Senate Republican votes in the evenly divided Senate to make for passing protections for those enrolled in the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA, undocumented people who came to the US as children, according to media reports.

Read: US ‘Dreamers’ demand action as DC court rules DACA illegal (October 7, 2022)

After the Thanksgiving break Democrats will have a limited window, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who chairs the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, told reporters outside the US Capitol, Wednesday, New Jersey Monitor reported.

Durbin did not specify if senators would attempt to pass stand-alone legislation or try to attach DACA language to a must-pass government spending bill.

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, acknowledged that there would not be enough support among Republican House members to pass legislation to create a pathway for Dreamers once the House switches to Republican control next year. So the next two months will be advocates’ only window.

“That’s the grim reality. The political reality is that we need 10 Republicans who will step up and join us in this effort,” Durbin said, adding that he knows at least five Republicans who are interested in the issue, though he did not name names.

Senate Democrats would need to garner 10 Republican votes to advance legislation that would protect Dreamer past a filibuster.

Read: Biden strengthening protections for Dreamers (August 25, 2022)

“Come January, it’s going to be extremely difficult to get through common sense, humane immigration reform, including protections for DACA participants,” US Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California was quoted as saying.

The second urgent issue is that the program can be deemed illegal at any time, as Dreamers, advocates and Democrats await a decision from a district court judge that could end the program.

Nine Republican-led states — Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas and Mississippi.
— filed a suit against DACA, arguing that the White House overreached in creating a program that should have been left to Congress.

Durbin, Menendez and Schumer, holding out some hope, said they believe they can work with Republicans to pass DACA legislation because the midterm elections are over for those senators who were campaigning.

In early 2021, Sens. Durbin and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, introduced S. 264, the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

Read: Documented Dreamers share their stories amid new push for protection (May 19, 2022)

Meanwhile, a coalition of 225 organizations, representing many constituencies, has urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to prioritize protections for DACA recipients in any end-of-year package.

In the following weeks, Congress has the opportunity to protect immigrant youth following the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision finding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy unlawful, they said in a letter to the two top Democratic leaders.

DACA has protected more than 830,000 young people from deportation, allowing them to work, study, and contribute fully to American society.

With voters, by a 2-to-1 margin, supporting Congress taking immediate action to provide permanent legal status to DACA recipients, the letter led by United We Dream, the Immigration Hub, UnidosUS, the National Immigration Law Center and other partners suggested the time to act is now.

Read: After Latest DACA Ruling, More Than 600,000 ‘Dreamers’ Remain in Legal Limbo (October 5, 2022)

“The implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012 gave life-changing protection from deportation and the ability to work lawfully to hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth. But it has never been enough,” the letter noted.

“The writing on the wall is clear: DACA is dying. As Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate, we urge you to prioritize DACA protections in any end-of-year package,” it said.

“The time to act is now,” the letter stated noting “the potential incoming anti-immigrant majority in the House has been crystal clear in their opposition to providing protections for undocumented immigrants.”

Read: Ami Bera backs renewed Democratic push to protect legal Dreamers (May 19, 2022)

Read: How a DACA update can help documented dreamers (January 31, 2022)

Read: As Biden completes one year, Indian legal dreamers demand relief (January 18, 2022)

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