A legislative solution for "Dreamers"—immigrants who arrived in the United States as children—appeared doomed on Monday (March 20), after the White House and Democrats failed to break an impasse on immigration.
The two sides traded proposals over the weekend, hoping to come to an agreement ahead of finalizing the government spending bill that must be signed by Friday (March 23) to avoid another government shutdown. The Trump administration offered a two-and-a-half year extension for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in return for $25 billion in border wall funding, according to Politico.
Democrats rejected the offer and instead proposed a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants. It’s an idea that the White House supported earlier this year, in exchange for border wall funding. But the White House reportedly balked at the proposal this time.
Given the stalemate—and with Trump’s attempt to rescind DACA tied up in federal court as mid-term elections fast approach—there is little chance of a legislative solution for young immigrants any time soon.
Previously, Democrats demanded that DACA protections be part of negotiations for the spending bill. This time, it was worked on separately. It’s a change in strategy that has angered some members of the party.
"Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. The federal courts didn’t settle this or give us a permanent solution," said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) "We need a budget or spending measure that includes the Dream Act. Punto."
Instead, Democrats hope public pressure will force the White House and Republicans to act on DACA. A CBS News poll released in January showed that nearly 9 in 10 Americans think DACA recipients should be allowed to remain in the U.S.
"Our best leverage is 90 percent of the American people—87 percent—think this ought to be done," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told The Hill.
Last month, the Supreme Court refused to hear the Trump administration’s challenge to a lower court ruling that blocked the White House from rescinding DACA, the Obama-era initiative that protects some 700,000 young immigrants from deportation. The high court decision essentially buys time for DACA recipients, who were scheduled to lose their protections on March 5.
Congress has struggled for months to find a legislative fix for Dreamers. They avoided the issue in late December when they approved a short-term spending measure. Then the immigration stalemate forced a three-day government shutdown in January, pushing Congress to extend government funding without a DACA deal in place. And in February, the Senate voted on four separate immigration bills. They all failed.