After each proposed piece of immigration legislation failed to gain enough votes to pass through the Senate last week, Congress has now left session to go on their President’s Day recess. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, had given the Senate a week to discuss and vote upon immigration legislation, in hopes that the issue would have a definitive answer before the holiday recess. His plan backfired, leaving no legislation and a now vacant Senate. What is currently unclear is whether immigration debates will continue once Congress is back in session next week.
A solution for DACA is the most pressing issue in sight, as time continues to run out. Without new legislation, starting March 5th 2018, thousands of Dreamers will lose their protected status and work permits per day, leaving them at risk for deportation as well as the inability to work. While a statement from the White House stated that Dreamers were not a priority for deportations, the risk still remains. The inability to legally work will place a large strain on recipients, many who now have families to support.
Interestingly, the Trump-backed Grassley Bill garnered the least votes of all of the proposed legislation. Trump has taken a hard stance on his four pillars plan, making clear that all of his provisions must be met for a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers to be considered. He placed the blame on Senate Democrats who refused to vote yes on his contentious policies, despite the positive plan for DACA recipients. The three other pillars, money for a border wall and increased border security, reduction of family-based immigration, and the end of the diversity lottery are all considered non-negotiable among Senate Democrats.
The House has still not decided on if and when it will vote on any immigration legislation. There are proposed bills such as the Goodlatte Bill, which follows Trump’s four pillars. However, as demonstrated by the failure of the Grassley Bill, it would be next to impossible for this bill to make it through Congress.
VERDICT: There is very little time left to make a decision on DACA, and the government is at an impasse over immigration. While it is looking less and less likely that a decision will be made, hopefully the Senate will come back next week with a better plan.