During a White House press briefing Monday afternoon, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said if Democrats don’t comply with President Donald Trump’s demands, the administration may begin deporting DREAMers.
“We haven’t determined that. We are hopeful we don’t have to do that and we don’t have to get there,” Sanders responded. “We would like Democrats to get serious about solving problems.”
The statement comes just hours after the Senate, with much-needed support from those same Democrats, voted in favor of re-opening the government. What Democrats got in return was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “intention” to hold a fair vote on legislation to protect DREAMers.
But even McConnell’s spokesman has made it clear that he is not agreeing to vote on any specific legislation, just a process that could end in a stalemate.
Please note: any reports saying McConnell promised to hold a vote on "the DREAM Act" are wrong. His spox says: "Fair amendment process—not a vote on one specific bill."
— Dara Lind (@DLind) January 22, 2018
Adding fuel to this political fire is the fact that Trump doesn’t seem to know exactly what he wants with regards to a DACA fix. Trump rejected a bipartisan proposal that included DACA protections and a increased border security on Wednesday last week. Had he accepted the deal, Congress likely would have been able to avoid a government shutdown on Friday.
Instead, after kicking the can down the road for the third time, Congress has just six weeks to solve the United States’ immigration policy and effectively secure the lives of 690,000 young unauthorized immigrants whose legal status is threatened by the removal of DACA. It has just three weeks to do so before the next continuing resolution vote to fund the government on February 8.
Congress’ continuous sputtering has real-life effects for DREAMers: 22,000 individuals have lost their DACA protections since September of 2017, when the Trump administration announced it was ending the program. That total comes out to roughly 122 undocumented immigrants a day.
Some action has already been taken against DREAMers in the form of deportation since the September announcement, including a 39-year-old husband and father who has lived in the United States for nearly 30 years. He was able to stay in the United States thanks to extensions under the Obama administration but no longer met the DACA age requirements and was deported to Mexico.
Because DACA protections aren’t indefinite, recipients are required to reapply every two years. Once March 6 rolls around, the number of immigrants losing DACA protections and work permits will accelerate exponentially. The immigration advocacy organization FWD.us estimates roughly 1,700 immigrants will lose their DACA protections each day between March 5 and November 5.