On Monday night, President Trump signed a bill that ended the government shutdown and extended federal funding until February 8. The government shutdown, which started on Saturday, began after Democrats and Republicans were unable to agree on a budget bill that included long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a deal for Dreamers.
While Democrats were able to secure long-term funding for CHIP with the bill signed Monday, an agreement over the Dreamers has been delayed until February 8, leaving 800,000 young people still uncertain about their futures. Democrats were only able to secure promises from number of Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that a bi-partisan Dreamer bill would be introduced by then.
“Promises aren’t going to protect our community, promises aren’t going to grant us a permanent solution” says Antonio Jaregui, a 20-year-old college student and Dreamer who was disappointed by the results of the government shutdown.
Dreamers, the term used to describe young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, were previously protected from deportation by President Obama’s executive action creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has allowed 800,000 young people to stay in the only country they’ve ever known and pursue educational opportunities, start careers, and live their lives freely. The median age of entry to the U.S. among people who applied for protection under DACA was 6 years old.
In September, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration had rescinded DACA, fundamentally uprooting the lives of millions of people and disrupting communities across the country. The Congress has until March to pass a bill reinstating the program. If a bill is not passed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will begin deporting Dreamers, using addresses and personal information that the young people trustingly provided to the government to qualify for DACA.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin and Republican Senator Linsdey Graham almost immediately issued a bipartisan bill, the Dream Act, that would allow undocumented immigrant youth—most of whom grew up in the United States—to apply for permanent residency and eventually citizenship. The bill would also end the deportation proceedings of anyone who qualifies for permanent residency under the Dream Act and children over five years of age who are in elementary or middle school. 80 percent of Americans support extending protections for Dreamers.
But the White House has slowed progress on a bi-partisan agreement by demanding a number of provisions be included in any new immigration bill, including funding for a border wall.
Since DACA was rescinded in September, an estimated 122 DACA recipients per day lose their protections, largely because they are afraid to apply to renew their DACA status, fearing that the information they provide could soon be used against them.
DACA recipients are not the only ones who fear deportation on a daily basis while waiting for clear solutions on immigration. Recently, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deported or detained at least four immigrant activists. Maru Mora Villalpando, an immigration activist who was targeted for deportation by ICE in December, stated that ICE’s actions were “retaliation for her political activism.”
ICE’s rising deportation and detainment counts started when the Trump Administration expanded the guidelines concerning the deportation of criminals. Under Trump’s guidelines, the term “criminal” includes immigrants who have been charged with, but not convicted of, a crime and immigrants who “in the judgement of an immigration officer, pose a risk to public safety.” Since Trump’s presidency, the number of immigration sanctuaries have doubled in order to accommodate safe spaces for migrants, due to rising and reoccurring threats of deportation and detainment.
News Sources: CNN 1/23/18, 1/20/18, 1/2/18, 10/26/17; San Antonio Current 1/22/18; The Washington Post 1/22/18; Huffington Post 1/22/18, 1/17/17; Center for American Progress 11/9/17; Feministing 1/18/18; Democracy Now 1/17/18; White House 1/25/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 9/5/17, 9/11/17