DACA Negotiations Continue, But Government Shutdown Looms

With the president hardening his position on a DACA fix, and Democrats in competitive Senate races unlikely to risk a government shutdown, the fate of the program for undocumented Dreamers probably won’t be decided this week.

By Jill AmentJanuary 17, 2018 11:35 am

Capitol Hill seems utterly frozen on the question of what to do about DACA, the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. If there’s no fix, some 800,000 young undocumented immigrants across the U.S., including 125,000 in Texas, would lose their protection from deportation. Some Democrats have said that if there’s no congressional fix by Friday, we could be headed for a government shutdown.

DACA has its own deadline. The Trump administration set March 5 – six months from the date the administration announced the program’s cancellation – as the date DACA would end.

Texas Congressman Will Hurd, a Republican, has announced a bipartisan solution – a narrowed DACA plan that he say has the support of some 50 House members.

Lindsey McPherson, who has been covering the debate as House Leadership reporter for Roll Call says Hurd’s proposal is likely to face strong opposition from the most conservative members of the House.

“[Hurd] has been an outspoken critic of the border wall as a physical barrier,” McPherson says “and his bill falls more along the lines of a bill he’s previously introduced for more of a ‘smart border wall, focused on technology.’

McPherson says President Donald Trump’s earlier flexibility on the wall and DACA has given way to a hard-line position that would require multiple years of wall funding to be part of any deal.

Democrats have not definitively threatened to force a government shutdown if they don’t get what they want on DACA. Republicans also face challenges in gaining the support needed to pass a continuing resolution, thus keeping the government open. Conservatives are balking at authorizing additional spending. McPherson says the House GOP will probably be able to reach a deal.

On the Senate side, Democrats have more leverage, because nine of their votes are needed to pass the continuing resolution. McPherson says Democrats facing reelection fights in states where Trump won the presidential vote in 2016 are unlikely to support a government shutdown over DACA.

McPherson says Texas Senator John Cornyn does not believe negotiations will result in a DACA agreement this week. Negotiators are meeting again Wednesday.

“They are a long way from an agreement because of issues over the wall, and other issues about broader immigration changes to family-based visas and ending the diversity visa lottery program, and how much protection they provide for these DACA recipients,” McPherson says.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.