On Friday morning, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act which included important gains for children and families such as:
- An additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to bring it up to 10 years
- Reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program
- Medicaid and disaster relief funding for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
- Funding to combat the opioid epidemic, and funding for the Child Care and Dependent Block Grant
Missing from this deal, however, is a solution for the more than 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Last year, the administration eliminated protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. These young people have proven their dedication to this nation, and have shown incredible resilience in their ability to pursue their dreams of becoming productive citizens of the United States. In addition, they have continued to further their education, strengthen their job skills, and volunteer to protect their communities all without the certainty of what their future may hold.
On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held the floor of the House in a record- setting, eight-hour speech, telling stories of DACA recipients from across the country.
This filibuster-style protest was in response to recent comments made by House Speaker Paul Ryan that he will not bring any immigration bill to the floor that does not meet the framework set by the White House. The White House framework includes a vast list enforcement reforms, $25 billion dollars for wall funding, elimination of the diversity visa lottery, and reduction in family-based migration by allowing family members to only sponsor their spouse and minor children.
Shortly after the passage of the budget deal, Senate Majority Leader McConnell followed through with his promise to begin the debate on immigration next week.
Congressional proposals on the table include:
- The Dream Act introduced by Sens. Durbin (D-IL) and Graham (R-SC) provides conditional legal status and a path to citizenship for certain long-term residents who entered the U.S. as children (known as Dreamers).
- A bipartisan proposal by the Gang of 6, Sens. Flake (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL.), Graham (R-SC), Gardner (R-CO), Bennet (D-CO) and Menendez (D-NJ) includes funding for border security in the form of new technology as well as planning for structures along the border, pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, and ending the diversity visa lottery.
- Hurd (R-TX) and Aguilar (D-CA) have introduced the Uniting and Securing America Act (USA) Act of 2018. This bill has bipartisan support and includes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, funding for border security measures including new technology and targeting ports of entry. This bill also seeks to address the underlying causes of migration from the Northern Triangle.
- McCain (R-AZ) and Coons (D-DE) introduced a companion bill to the Uniting and Securing America (USA) Act.
- Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760). This bill focuses on decreasing legal immigration, mandates employers use the E-verify system and calls for vast increases in border and interior enforcement. DACA recipients are given a provisionary legal stay that must be renewed every three years.
As an organization committed to health and well-being of all children we urge Congress to focus on the urgent matter in front of them.
DACA recipients and their families, including 200,000 U.S. citizen children, are facing a great deal of uncertainty and fear each day that passes without a solution.
Congress has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the children who were brought to this country at no fault of their own and have grown up only knowing the United States as their home. We also ask that members of Congress uphold the best interest of the children and families involved in all decisions regarding the long-term impact of immigration policies, including the DACA program.
The right thing to do now is to follow through with the promise to protect Dreamers.
This article has been aggregated with permission from First Focus: https://firstfocus.org/blog/the-state-of-play-for-daca-and-dreamers