Congress appears to be poised to adopt legislation dealing with DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the immigration program set up in 2012 by President Obama. DACA allowed illegal immigrants who entered the United States when they were minors to benefit from a moratorium on their expulsion for a period of two years and to be eligible for a work permit, subject to strict conditions. DACA has been an indispensable protection for these young people who are stuck in the paradox of being American at heart but without the right to stay because they entered the county illegally.
For the most part, today’s Dreamers are young academics between 20 and 30 years old, perfectly integrated into society. Many of these children of America are successful examples and boosters of the American economy. DACA has allowed them to live without the fear of being deported and thus to build their lives in all serenity.
The latest polls reveal that 76% of Americans support Dreamers and are convinced that they have their place in society and that they must be saved. But this reality is mixed with the fears of the moment on immigration. It has therefore been difficult to find the legal tool that will find the balance of protecting these illegal young people without encouraging illegal immigration.
Dreamers Act: Almost Two Decades of Frustration
The name of Dreamers comes from the bill Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act introduced in Congress in 2001. The purpose of this bill was to regularize the situation of these young people by giving them, first of all, a right to permanent residence and then to become U.S. citizens. It has been 16 years since various versions of this bill were proposed but ended up defeated.
The End of DACA: A Time Bomb
The situation of Dreamers has become a time bomb.
On Sept. 5, 2017, the countdown began as President Trump announced that DACA would end on March 5, 2018. From that date, young people under DACA will not be able to renew their status and thus will be left in an untenable position of possibly being deported. Congress has until March 5 to find a fix for these Dreamers. After that date, every day, about 1,000 Dreamers will be deprived of their right to work and be at risk of being deported because of the cancellation of their DACA status.
On Monday, the U.S. Senate began a debate on immigration that was scheduled to last a week. According to some of the senators, the chances of reaching an agreement before the expiration of the deadline are slim. The Senate would need 60 votes in favor of any proposal.
It seems that the majority of the senators want to provide protection for the Dreamers. Even if both parties agree on the general idea, however, some Republicans have tried to use the debate to win concessions on other immigration measures as the price for their support.
However, the pressure is mounting. For example, the American Immigration Lawyers Associationsubmitted a petition to urge the Senate to make a decision urgently. Other individuals, associations and various leaders are all trying to push the Senate to find agreement on this theme. Even freelancers have written blog posts calling on people to contact the Senate and let the senators know that they want an agreement to be reached on the situation of the Dreamers.
Other Options for Dreamers
There are two categories of alternatives for Dreamers. The first would be to try to find other legal alternatives to remain on American soil. The second would be alternatives dealing with moving to another country. But recently a compromise proposal in the Senate has been gaining steam and looks like it may find enough backers to break through the logjam. We should know in the next day or two whether that will happen. For the sake of the Dreamers, and for progress on immigration as a whole, let’s hope that happens.
This article is reprinted from an article formerly published in the Forbes.