May 1 2018

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program got another boost in the courts last week and, at the same time, support for a vote on DACA legislation is  growing in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On April 23, U.S. District Judge John Bates, a George W. Bush appointee in the District of Columbia, issued a ruling on a pair of lawsuits by the NAACP and Princeton University challenging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s ending of DACA, calling it an “arbitrary and capricious [move] because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful.” This is the third federal judge to declare unlawful the ending of DACA. Only one judge in Maryland has upheld the Department of Homeland Security’s decision.

Those rulings opened the door for everyone currently or previously enrolled in DACA to renew their status. This latest ruling has the potential to go even further, and allow for new DACA applications to be filed. Judge Bates put a hold on his decision for 90 days, to give the federal government time to provide a more convincing justification for ending DACA. If the government fails to do so, then the judge’s ruling would require the Department of Homeland Security to accept new DACA applications.

This potential change is still three months away, and it’s possible that the Trump Administration will get the hold extended beyond 90 days by going to an appeals court. Even if this happens, Judge Bates’ ruling is still a moral victory and a win for immigrant youth.

A week before Judge bates’ ruling, Members of Congress held a press conference in Washington, DC to announce that a bipartisan resolution to allow for votes on the Dream Act and other immigration legislation had earned the support of a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution (H.Res. 774), introduced by California Congressman Jeff Denham, lays the parameters for debate.

Known as a “Queen of the Hill” rule, the resolution would allow all members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on four different bills, each offered by a different member of Congress, including California Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, the sponsor of the Dream Act, which creates a path to citizenship for immigrant youth without harsh enforcement measures that would negatively affect other immigrants.

The other three members of Congress who would get to offer a bill are Congressman Denham (who introduced the USA Act), Congressman Bob Goodlatte (who introduced the Securing America’s Future Act) and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Whichever bill gets the most votes over the required 218 threshold would be the one to pass the House and then be sent to the U.S. Senate.

Support for this “Queen of the Hill” rule has been growing steadily. It’s understandable why: the resolution allows the “People’s House,” as the House of Representatives is commonly known, to work its will on behalf of the American people in an open, democratic way.

Congressman Denham’s resolution now has the support of 248 members of Congress–194 Democrats and 53 Republicans. This includes 44 of California’s 53 Representatives. Despite this strong showing of support, the resolution cannot be considered unless Speaker Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy decide to allow it.  So far, they have not shown a willingness to do so, but this could change over time as support continues to grow and communities across the nation continue to rise up as one.

 

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