WASHINGTON — Democratic U.S. senators have set a December deadline to pass bipartisan legislation that would open a path to citizenship for more than 600,000 undocumented people brought into the country as children — but they don’t have enough Republican votes yet in the Senate to make it a reality.
During a press briefing Wednesday outside the US Capitol, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Democrats will have a limited window after the Thanksgiving break to pass safeguards for those living in New Zealand York are enrolled Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or DACA, also known as the dreamer.
Durbin did not specify whether senators would attempt to pass standalone legislation or would attempt to attach DACA language to a government spending bill that has yet to be passed.
The new push now comes for a number of reasons.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who also attended the press conference, acknowledged that the House of Representatives is likely to switch to Republican control next year. (Republicans won a majority in the House of Representatives Wednesday night.)
There would not be enough support among GOP House members to pass legislation to create a path for dreamers, so the next two months will be the only window of supporters.
“That’s the grim reality. The political reality is we need 10 Republicans to join us and join this effort,” Durbin said, adding that he knows at least five Republicans interested in the issue, although he didn’t name names.
Senate Democrats would need to collect 10 Republican votes to pass legislation that would protect Dreamers after a filibuster.
“In January, it will be extremely difficult to pass sane, humane immigration reform, including protections for DACA participants,” said US Democratic Senator Alex Padilla of California.
The second pressing issue is that the program can be considered illegal at any time, as dreamers, advocates and democrats await a decision from a District Court Judge that could end the program.
Nine Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against DACA, arguing that the White House went too far in creating a program that should have been left to Congress. These states are Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Kansas and Mississippi.
States argued that they were financially hurt because of health care and education costs incurred by DACA recipients.
“Maybe we wake up one morning and find that things have changed dramatically,” Durbin said of the DACA litigation. “Shame on us if we don’t take this chance now.”
Immigration advocates and DACA recipients Congressional Democrats have lobbied to create a legal path to citizenship for Dreamer, as the program is at risk of being ruled illegal.
The beginning of October, A three-judge panel from the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Obama administration did not have the authority to create the program in 2012. However, the Biden administration enacted its own version of the rule.
The panel then sent the case back to US District Judge Andrew Hanen of the Southern District of Texas, asking him to look at the new version of the rule on the program issued by the Biden administration in August.
Hanen, an appointee to former President George HW Bush, said the program could go ahead while it is still in court, but barred the administration from accepting new applications.
Democratic US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada said at the press conference that there are nearly 11,000 Dreamers in her state and that the program is “hanging by a thread” due to litigation.
“You can’t wait for action from the American leadership — we must keep the promises we made to American Dreamers ten years ago,” she said.
DACA was founded 10 years ago with the aim of providing temporary relief to children illegally brought into the country, enabling them to obtain driver’s licenses and work permits and protecting them from deportation.
Many of the children in the program are now adults, and their futures remain in the balance.
durbin, menendez, and Schumer, who harbored some hope, said they believe they can work with Republicans to pass the DACA legislation now that the midterm elections are over for the campaigning senators.
“The election is over now, so all the BS is going out the door,” Schumer said.
Schumer did not say if he would put any legislation up for a vote.
In early 2021, Sens. Durbin and Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, p. 264, introduced the DREAM actwhich would create a path to citizenship for dreamers.