March 6 2018

The President Trump-imposed expiration date for DACA, March 5th, is now behind us. While the impact of that date has been somewhat softened by federal court decisions that allow DACA recipients to renew their status, many immigrant youth are still facing the threat of deportation.

Decisions in California and New York federal courts in response to lawsuits filed by DACA youth and others, mean that people covered under DACA before March 5th can apply for a renewal of their DACA status. The United States Supreme Court’s decision last week not to expedite the Trump administration’s appeal of those courts’ injunctions was welcome news, as it will continue to give DACA recipients some more time to apply for renewals. However, this is still just a temporary reprieve. These court decisions can be reversed or the injunctions lifted as the cases are heard by courts of appeal and more cases wind their way through the judicial system. This could end up back at the Supreme Court in the fall.

Furthermore, these court decisions don’t help young people not already covered by DACA, such as the 120,000 fifteen year-olds who hadn’t yet reached the age when Trump announced the end of DACA, and were ineligible to ever apply.

Nor do those court decisions help the estimated 285,000 individuals who also came to the United States as children but who were over the age of 31 at the time DACA was created and are thus ineligible to apply, leaving them  unprotected from deportation. Also, another 14,000 immigrant youth whose DACA status has expired are still waiting for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to process their renewal applications, during which time they face uncertainty about their employment and the fear of deportation. USCIS has said they will not expedite the processing of these renewals, making the anxious wait for a renewal even longer.

In all, there are an estimated 1.8 million individuals across the country who would be eligible for DACA were it still in full effect today. This is why advocates are continuing to call on Congress to find legislative solutions.

Trump called on Congress to pass legislation to enshrine DACA into law when he announced the termination of the program last fall, but has kept moving the goalposts since then, frustrating Senators from both parties. First, he demanded funding for a border wall in exchange for a DACA-fix, and then when offered that, he came up with new demands. When two bipartisan proposals were debated in the Senate last month, each of which would have given the president things he asked for during the past five months, Trump didn’t engage in negotiation, but rather used a veto threat, inflammatory tweets, and disinformation to sabotage both bipartisan proposals.

While those two bipartisan proposals won a majority of Senators’ support, they fell short of the 60-vote supermajority needed to advance legislation in the Senate. Had the president stayed silent, it’s widely assumed at least one of those measures would have garnered enough additional Republican votes to reach the 60-vote mark.

Undaunted, a number of Senators have continued to work on finding a solution in the coming weeks. It is unclear what the path to victory will be, but one thing is clear: the activism and voices of immigrant youth and their allies rising up as one in California, Washington, D.C., and across the nation, has kept hope alive that a solution will be reached.

 

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