What’s Happening With DACA and the Wall?
by Alexandria Hentschel
The United States legislature is battling over immigration, a standoff which was the main cause of the January’s government shutdown.
On the table are two vastly different proposals. First, the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) bill, which is up for renewal and offers certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines the opportunity for consideration of deferred action for a period of two years. Second, President Trump’s border wall, which the White House hopes to fund in the next budget proposal.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in September that the Trump administration was rescinding DACA, which was a key piece of Obama-era policy. This could change the status of over 700,000 immigrants residing in the United States who are collectively referred to as “the Dreamers.” To receive protected status, Dreamers had to have arrived in the United States before age 16 and resided there since June 15, 2007, and could not be older than 30 when the policy was enacted in 2012.
The border wall requires an $2.7 billion dollar appropriation, at minimum, including extra costs for drug screening and access roads.
The question facing the legislature is whether a compromise will be made: whether Republicans will renew DACA, and in return, Democrats will fund the wall. Several compromise deals have been proposed, such as one by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
Dr. Marc Clauson, professor of history and law at Cedarville, does not believe that a compromise is on the horizon due to the fact that Democrats have rescinded their previous desire to negotiate, wanting better amnesty protections under DACA. He does not see a compromise happening without significant changes to the provision.
“As of now, it is looking bleak for a deal,” he said. “Republicans…might cave since some of them are pro-amnesty. If they go with [Democrats] then DACA might be amended to allow them to stay.”
The White House proposed a new framework for immigration on Thursday which included a path to citizenship for an estimated 1.8 million undocumented immigrants, but also included cuts legal immigration and around $25 billion for a wall and border security. The framework also ends family migration beyond spouses and minor children and abolishes the diversity visa lottery.
This proposal was rejected by both the left and right in the legislature, as both sides felt it was too extreme.
Dr. Glen Duerr, associate professor of international studies at Cedarville University, does not see a compromise happening without significant changes to DACA. He also mentioned that immigration in the United States is different than other nations, which may explain the unique difficulties of legislation.
“Immigration in the United States is unique among recipient countries,” he said. “For example, a lot of countries have a merit-based point system. When my family moved from the UK to Canada, my father had to gain a certain amount of points.”
Duerr mentioned how the proximity of Latin America and the relative ease of crossing the border creates a unique issue for the United States’ immigration laws, as Latin Americans make up around 74% of DACA recipients.
“It’s dealt with in a way that’s categorically unique,” he said. “Far less illegal immigrants go to places like the UK or France. The Dreamer is a unique discussion.”
Neither Clauson nor Duerr is optimistic about DACA’s fate. Duerr mentioned that DACA would most likely need to be amended by dropping the qualifying age from under 16 at arrival to under 14 or 12 instead, and include high school graduation requirements, essentially creating stricter enforcement.
Clauson mentioned that Trump may veto any bill that does not come with strict enough provisions.
“The bottom line is that right now it is impossible to tell with any certainty what might happen,” Clauson said. “It needs a few more days. In addition, there is the possible shutdown arising again.”
Duerr pointed out that, as Christians, we have a unique responsibility when we consider legislation on immigration.
“As Christians, we’re called to be compassionate, to help the sojourner, and to be generous. We’ve been given a lot, and it’s been because of the grace of the Lord rather than anything else,” he said. “But also, scripture also speaks time and time again about indebtedness and the ability to pay and to do things properly. It’s a tricky balance — Christians need to balance the issues of helping the oppressed and the sojourners and making sure that we have the viable resources.”
Whether DACA will be renewed, or whether the funding for the border wall will be appropriated, remains to be seen in the coming days.
Alexandria Hentschel is a sophomore International Studies and Spanish double major and the Off-Campus news editor for Cedars. She enjoys old books, strong coffee, and honest debate.