Is DACA deal dead?

La Semana - - FRONT PAGE / PORTADA -

With a dead­line to avoid a shut­down of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment just two days away and tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion for Dream­ers ex­pir­ing in less than a month, an agree­ment that would cod­ify DACA (Pres­i­dent Obama’s De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram) ap­pears more elu­sive than ever. Both sides are per­haps far­ther apart than ever be­fore on the is­sue of im­mi­gra­tion re­form, largely due to Pres­i­dent Trump con­tin­u­ally mov­ing the goal posts, chang­ing the cri­te­ria un­der which he would al­low Dream­ers to be­come le­gal res­i­dents and ul­ti­mately cit­i­zens.

On Tues­day the White House made the mat­ter worse when Chief of Staff John Kelly slammed many pre­vi­ously el­i­gi­ble Dream­ers for be­ing “too lazy to get off their asses” and reg­is­ter for DACA ear­lier, and Trump - as usual of­fer­ing no ev­i­dence to sup­port his claims - blamed the cur­rent le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem for “loop­holes where killers are al­lowed to come into our coun­try and con­tinue to kill.”

Trump said he would pre­fer a gov­ern­ment shut­down over back­ing away from any of his re­cent im­mi­gra­tion pro­pos­als, pro­pos­als that crit­ics say the pres­i­dent surely knows Democrats could never ac­cept.

Th­ese in­clude elim­i­nat­ing al­most all of the cat­e­gories of fam­ily mem­bers whereby U.S. cit­i­zens and le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents are able to pe­ti­tion for close rel­a­tives to come to the United States, and fund­ing not just the “wall” on the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der but also spend­ing bil­lions of dol­lars on ICE of­fi­cers and judges whose sole pur­pose is to round up and de­port as many unau­tho­rized res­i­dents as pos­si­ble.

Trump and his anti-im­mi­grant al­lies in the U.S. House and Se­nate have been us­ing the Dream­ers as bar­gain­ing chips to get what they re­ally want, which is to stop as many peo­ple of color as pos­si­ble from en­ter­ing the United States – even legally – while ex­pand­ing the gov­ern­ment’s means of de­port­ing those who are al­ready here.

For im­mi­grant ad­vo­cacy groups like Unido-sUS (for­merly the Na­tional Coun­cil of La Raza) this is a bridge too far.

Fol­low­ing the State of the Union ad­dress, Un­dio-sUS de­cried Trump’s “pol­icy to end ‘chain mi­gra­tion’ which is a big­oted and of­fen­sive term that refers to the process by which U.S. cit­i­zens can re­unite with their par­ents and adult chil­dren.”

Dream­ers and those who sup­port their cause are un­likely to em­brace any plan un­der which a cer­tain num­ber of young men and women would be al­lowed to re­main in the U.S. only to have their par­ents and fam­ily mem­bers de­ported, never to be reunited in this coun­try again.

Bi­par­ti­san ef­forts to do what is best for the Dream­ers - and the na­tion – have been pro­posed, such as the USA Act from Se­na­tors Chris Coons (D-DE) and John McCain (R-AZ), a bill the se­na­tors say is nar­rowly framed leg­is­la­tion in­tended to al­low im­mi­grant youth to ap­ply for law­ful sta­tus while ad­dress­ing var­i­ous bor­der se­cu­rity mea­sures. Sadly, Pres­i­dent Trump de­nounced the mea­sure as “a to­tal waste of time,” clearly pre­fer­ring to ramp up his anti-im­mi­grant rhetoric even fur­ther while on the other hand claim­ing to “love the Dream­ers.”

If, as seems likely as of the time this goes to press, no ac­cept­able im­mi­gra­tion deal will emerge this week to avoid a gov­ern­ment shut­down, the clock be­gins to tick in earnest for the Dreamer’s March 5 dead­line which, John Kelly said on Tues­day, he doubts Trump will ex­tend.

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