Next week, lawmakers in Washington will once again try to address the lengthy stalemate over legislation regarding the future of DACA recipients – undocumented young immigrants allowed to remain in the U.S. under an Obama-era program formally titled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
The debate comes after a bipartisan push to protect DACA recipients petered out over the past week, paving the way for more conservative measures from Republican leaders to gain traction.
“It’s not getting traction because the Republican leadership in the House doesn’t want to be forced to put a straight up or down Dreamer bill before their members,” Diaz says, “because it could be awkward for some of them, particularly ones who are vulnerable in their districts – Will Hurd in Texas, for example, who’s facing a tough challenge in a border district that’s very heavily Latino. So they just don’t want to put their members on the spot. And what Will Hurd and his Republican allies – the moderates, as they’re being called – and nearly all the Democrats in the House, what they’ve been trying to do is pretty much just put the House to the test. ‘Do we want to do something and address the Dreamer issue or not?’”
Diaz says Republican congressional leadership is struggling to reach a consensus on how to approach DACA legislation.
“Party leaders on both sides also recognize that members have to do what they need to do in order to survive in their own districts,” he says. “So I’m sure the Paul Ryans of this world – the Speaker of the House – are willing to give a guy like Will Hurd some latitude. But that doesn’t mean that Paul Ryan wants to force Republicans all across the country who aren’t in border Latino districts to have to say definitively yea or nay on any specific Dreamer protection plan.”
Like Hurd, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul has also proposed DACA legislation. Diaz says their bills would have very different outcomes.
“What Hurd is trying to do is very narrowly tailor it to just doing something about the Dreamers. And it throws in a little bit of border security,” he says. “What McCaul’s bill would do is much broader. It addresses immigration as a whole. It restricts even legal immigration. What it does for Dreamers is it provides renewable visas. In other words, temporary visas, but no guaranteed path of citizenship down the line, which is what Hurd’s bill would do. And not incidentally, the McCaul bill would also fund Donald Trump’s long desired wall on the Mexican border.”
Will members of Congress take a vote on DACA before they face the voters?
“This being an election year,” he says, “I think the closer we get to November, the less likely it is.”
Written by Jen Rice.