DHS Aims to End Regulation Encouraging Immigrant Entrepreneurs in U.S.

As it stated it would do, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a proposed regulation eliminating the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER) created during the Obama Administration to help noncitizens seeking to launch businesses in the U.S.

You can read more background on this issue here.

A recent Harvard Business School paper confirms that immigrants start businesses at higher rates than do U.S. natives.  MeBIC partner New American Economy outlines the positive effects on the U.S. economy of immigrant entrepreneurs.  Eliminating the IER flies in the face of the Administration’s stated goal of growing the U.S. economy.

Public comment on the proposed rule will be accepted through June 28, 2018.   Maine businesses that would like to comment opposing elimination of the IER are encouraged to contact MeBIC.

DACA: State of Play Update

Nationwide unemployment is at a 30 year low. Employers are clamoring for more workers at every level, from manual labor to PhD researchers. Over 700,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have lived here for at least eleven and as many as 36 years have only the federal courts standing between them and loss of their legal status and work eligibility following the Administration’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  Business associations, religious leaders, the general public, including a majority of Republicans and Trump supporters, believe that Congress must create a path to legal status for these DACA/Dreamers.

Congress has not been able to get this done, in part due to the shifting positions of the president. After insisting that any DACA deal would have to include border security, in March President Trump turned down a bipartisan Senate offer that did just that, and instead moved the goalpost to reject any bill that would not substantially gut the U.S. system for immediate-family immigration.

Where things stand now.

Recently, several moderate Republicans initiated a discharge petition, going around House leadership to advance a “Queen of the Hill” maneuver to bring four separate DACA-related bills to the House floor for a vote. The discharge petition had gathered 213 of the 218 needed supporters, including 23 Republicans, before the effort was put on hold leading into the Memorial Day recess. The pause will allow negotiations on a DACA solution to continue in the House, but if no deal is reached, the leaders of the discharge petition effort have pledged to resume gathering signatories in early June.

In the meantime, President Trump has reiterated he won’t sign a bill that doesn’t include funding for the border wall, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated he might not schedule a vote on a DACA relief bill unless there’s an indication that the President would sign it. This Washington Post article summarizes the state of play as of the start of Congress’s Memorial Day recess.

Once/if the discharge petition begins to move again, it will need five more Republicans to get it across the finish line. Most Democrats have signed it, including Rep. Chellie Pingree.  While Rep. Bruce Poliquin has expressed support for DACA youth, he has yet to sign on.

Maine has several hundred DACA holders.  They are our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, friends, family members.  They are college students, entrepreneurs, and working in jobs ranging from high tech to hospitality to shipbuilding to agriculture.

With Maine’s 2.7% unemployment rate, its lowest in 40 years, and with our aging population, keeping our DACA  community members here is not only the right thing to do, it’s also essential for Maine’s workforce and economy.   Rep. Poliquin should sign the discharge petition once Congress gets back to work in June, should it be needed to force a vote on a path to legal status for DACA holders.

Once again, USCIS Falls Far Short on H-2B Seasonal Visas

As MeBIC has discussed previously, the 33,000 nationwide limit on H-2B seasonal, non-agricultural visas available for temporary jobs starting between April 1 and September 30th of each year is chronically insufficient to meet the nation’s, and Maine’s, demand for seasonal labor.

In March 2018, Congress authorized USCIS to issue up to 63,547 additional H-2B visas for the remainder of FY 2018, similar to Congress’s stopgap solution for FY 2017.

Disappointingly,  after an inexcusable two month delay, USCIS just announced that rather than issue up to the maximum number of additional H-2B visas allowed by Congress’s fix, it will instead authorize only up to 15,000 more, as happened in FY 2017.  As a reminder, the government received applications for over 81,000 positions on the very first day that applications for H-2B summer season visas could be filed, eventually resulting in a lottery to select which petitions USCIS would process.  All other applications were rejected and returned to their employers.  Clearly, USCIS was aware that 15,000 additional visas would be inadequate to meet the demand.

In Maine and across the U.S., employers are turning to other solutions, such as recruiting Puerto Ricans who, as U.S. citizens, do not need visas and who are looking to the mainland for work while the island continues to struggle to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

If the H-2B program is to have future relevance, Congress must create permanent reforms significantly expanding the number of visas available and streamlining the process, so that the H-2B visa program can be predictable and reliable for employers with seasonal labor needs.  As the Wall Street Journal said in a recent editorial, “Mr. Trump says he wants the economy to grow by 4% or more, but it won’t happen if employers can’t find enough workers.”

Decline in International Student Enrollments: An Ominous Bellwether for the U.S. Economy?

After years of surging enrollments by international students in U.S. undergraduate and graduate degree programs, foreign student enrollment began a decline in 2016 that continued in 2017, according to multiple reports.

While various surveys revealed flat or slight drops at the undergraduate level for fall 2017 in international student “yield” – the percentage of accepted students who actually enroll – the decline in graduate school yield was more pronounced.  A survey by the Council of Graduate Schools found that 46% of graduate school deans reported “substantial” drops in international student enrollment for the fall of 2017.

International students in the U.S. comprise 20% of master’s and doctoral degree students, and in STEM fields, international graduate students far outnumber U.S. graduate students.

The National Foundation for American Policy, in an October 2017 report, found that from 1995 to 2015, while the number of U.S. graduate students in computer science increased by 45%, international graduate computer science students grew by 480%, to outnumber their U.S. peers by nearly four to one. The same report found that in U.S. graduate level programs in 2015,

(f)oreign nationals account(ed) for 81 percent of the full-time graduate students in electrical engineering and petroleum engineering, 79 percent in computer science, 75 percent in industrial engineering, 69 percent in statistics, 63 percent in mechanical engineering and economics, statistics, 59 percent in civil engineering and 57 percent in chemical engineering.

But that trend may be reversing.  The National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2018 report notes an “overall 6% decline in international graduate student enrollment from fall 2016 to fall 2017.”  The U.S. State Department issued 16% fewer student visas in FY 2017 than in FY 2016, with certain countries showing steeper declines.  Citizens of India and China were issued 24% and 22% fewer student visas, respectively, in FY 2017 compared to FY 2016.

Conversely, international student enrollment in other English-speaking countries such as Australia and Canada have seen enrollments surge.  Canada saw an 11% increase in international student enrollment from fall 2016 to fall 2017, following on the heels of a 17.5% increase from 2015 to 2016. International students cited Canada’s reputation as a “safe” and “tolerant and nondiscriminatory society” as two of their top three reasons for choosing that country, according to Canada’s Bureau for International Education.  Moreover, CBIE notes that 51% of international students in Canada plan to immigrate to Canada.  The Canadian government encourages this, and in 2016 amended its immigration laws to increase the favorable weight given to education attained at Canadian institutions when considering applications from intending immigrants.  Similarly, Australia saw a 15% increase in international university students from 2016 to 2017, and its immigration system facilitates remaining in Australia after graduation by international students who want to pursue permanent residency there.   In contrast, U.S. law requires student visa denial to any international student believed to have the long-term intention to immigrate to the U.S.

While it may be too soon to call the decline in international students to the U.S. a trend, there are worrying portents that it may continue during this Administration, both due to actual policy shifts and rhetoric, and to prospective international students’ perceptions of a new hostility in the U.S.’s attitude towards immigrants. In addition, changes making it more difficult, following degree completion, for international students and their spouses and children to transition to employment and to permanent residence in the U.S. may make other countries more attractive destinations.

The short-term costs of these shifts are significant. In the U.S., in response to reduced tuition revenues from fewer international students (who ordinarily pay the highest possible rate), some higher education institutions are having to reduce costs, including by cutting faculty and courses or majors.  A decline in graduate students can result in a university’s reduced capacity to conduct research, and correspondingly, to attract top faculty. Local communities also suffer, since international students live and spend money in their college or university towns.

The long-term costs are likely to be the most damaging, if U.S. employers cannot get the highly educated talent that they need.  For example, in 2015, 57% of Silicon Valley STEM workers with Bachelor’s degrees or higher were foreign born.  If the U.S. loses its ability to attract and keep the brightest minds from around the world, we may cease to be a global leader in innovation in myriad sectors and professions.

Fall 2018 international student higher education enrollment numbers will help us understand if the 2017 decline was a signal of worse to come, or a blip.  Let us hope for the strength of our nation, our communities, and our economy, that it was the latter.

U.S. Immigration Debate Defies Economic Realities

A recent Wall Street Journal column succinctly outlines the disconnect between our nation’s economic realities and the immigration debate in the U.S. and in Washington D.C., particularly in the House of Representatives. The article notes that despite a growing elderly population, declining fertility rates (now at 1.76, the lowest in 30 years), the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, and business growth hampered by not enough workers, many in Congress want to shrink the number of legal immigrants to the U.S.

Due to Administration policies, that shrinkage is already happening. Dramatic drops in refugee admissions (only 13,000 so far this year, putting us on track to admit barely 20,000, the lowest number since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980); increased “vetting” leading to visa delays and denials for innocuous mistakes, such as not remembering to include an obsolete handle from a long-abandoned social media account; planned ejection of 1.1 million long term, working residents who have DACA and TPS status; inadequate numbers of temporary professional and seasonal worker visas meeting only a fraction of employer demand; and sharp declines in student visa approvals, to name only a few actual or planned Administration actions, have placed a stranglehold on the pipeline of immigrants to the U.S.

In contrast, some countries with similar demographics recognize that increased immigration translates into economic growth.  To counteract declining birthrates and increasing retirements, Canada has changed its laws to boost the influx of immigrants and refugees, with immigrants projected to be 30% of its population by 2036.  In Australia, some small towns have turned to immigrants to reverse population declines and revive their communities.

It is ironic that in this country built by centuries of immigration, there is not near-unanimity in Congress that if the U.S. wants a growth economy despite our demographics, continued robust immigration is key.

International Travel to U.S Declines, with Economic Costs

According to travel industry experts and the U.S. Commerce Department, international traveler spending to the U.S. declined by 3.1% in 2017, following a decline in 2016 as well.   International traveler arrivals also saw a 2.1% decrease in 2016, the most recent full year for which numbers are available.

Globally, from 2015 to 2017, long-haul international travel, e.g. overseas trips, increased by 7.9%.  During the same period, of the top 13 international long haul destinations, only the U.S. and Turkey, experienced declines in arrivals.

Decreased international tourism has enormous economic consequences.  According to the U.S. Travel Association,

(i)nternational travel is our country’s No. 1 service export, and 15.3 million American workers depend on a healthy travel industry for their employment.

They go on to note that

(h)ad the U.S. maintained its 2015 market share, it would have received 7.4 million more visitors from abroad and $32.2 billion in additional traveler spending. That translates to 100,000 more American jobs. It is comparable to:

– Opening 25 auto plants —equal to the 4,000-job plant Toyota announced for Alabama in January 2018

– Opening two new Amazon headquarters, which will bring 50,000 jobs to a U.S. destination/city

While a stronger dollar is likely one factor in the decline, some travel industry experts speculate that Trump Administration policies, including the various “Travel Bans”, and pervasive anti-immigrant rhetoric, beginning with the 2016 Presidential campaign and continuing throughout this Administration, may be causing international visitors to travel elsewhere.

A recent Cato Institute analysis of government data indicates that compared to FY 2016, in the first half of FY 2018,  of 48 Muslim majority countries, 45 experienced declines in temporary visa issuance.  The Muslim countries subjected to the Travel Bans (the current version of which bars immigrants, but not most temporary visa travel) saw a 61% drop in temporary visa approvals.   Overall, in FY 2017, the U.S. State Department issued nearly 9% fewer visitor visas for business or pleasure than it did in FY 2016, although the data doesn’t reveal if this reflects fewer people applying for visas, or fewer visa approvals.

To try to reverse the decline, in January 2018 eleven associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association, and the National Restaurant Association formed the Visit U.S. Coalition. That Coalition will market and promote international tourism to the U.S., educate the public and policy makers about the important economic role of international tourism, and work for policies to streamline visa issuance and to send the message that the U.S. welcomes foreign travelers.

It remains to be seen how heavy of a lift  it will be to reach the Coalition’s goals.  However, if not successful, states such as Maine where tourism is an economic mainstay, may eventually feel the effects.

Refugee Admissions Continue at Record Low – Just as Unemployment Is at Record Lows

As MeBIC has written about previously, the U.S. Government is continuing to block the admission of refugees to the U.S.   Last fall, the Administration stated that 45,000 refugees would be admitted to the U.S. in this fiscal year, the lowest number since the Refugee Act of 1980 took effect.

But as reported in a recent article, government data shows that the actual number of refugees admitted year-to-date makes it likely that barely 20,000 will enter the U.S. before the fiscal year ends in September.  Muslim refugees from countries such as Iraq, Somalia, and Syria have been the hardest hit.  In FY 2016, nearly 39,000 refugees from predominantly Muslim countries gained refugee status in the U.S.   To date this fiscal year, just over 2100 Muslim refugees have entered.  The Administration’s “Travel Ban 4.0” and heightened vetting of a population that was already subjected to the highest level of scrutiny (typically taking nearly two years to complete) of all applicants seeking to come to the U.S., have erected a virtual wall blocking entry of refugees.

Maine has resettled only 53 refugees as of May 16, 2018, putting the state on track to receive fewer than 100 when the fiscal year ends in just over four months.  To compare, in FY 2016, Maine received about 650 refugees, most from countries such as Iraq, Somalia, and Syria.

The U.S. has an international law obligation to resettle refugees, as well a moral and humanitarian obligation to do so.  But refugee resettlement is not just the right thing to do for refugees; it is a win for the U.S. economy, bringing a reliable stream each year of newcomers who want to work and contribute to the country that offers them safe haven.  Refugees enter our workforce, start businesses, pay taxes, volunteer, and have children who will be our workforce of tomorrow.  Refugees have been a steady source of newcomers and contributing community members to Maine since 1980, until the numbers dropped by over half last fiscal year, only to become nearly insignificant during the current fiscal year.

With Maine’s unemployment rate below 3%, its lowest in forty years, and the U.S. unemployment rate at a nearly 17 year low at only 3.9%, the Administration’s effective evisceration of our nation’s refugee resettlement process makes little economic sense.

130 Representatives Ask USCIS to Keep H-4 Work Authorization

As MeBIC has written previously, the Administration plans to rescind an Obama-era regulation allowing certain H-4 visa spouses of H-1B professional visa holders to work legally in the U.S. while waiting for their residency, a process that can take years, and even decades.  Eliminating the rule will hurt the U.S.’s ability to attract global talent, as explained in previous posts, and by an H-4 spouse in an op-ed.

In a May 16, 2018  letter to Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a bipartisan group of 130 Members of Congress urged her to maintain the current regulation.

Business associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Human Resource Management, the National Association of Manufacturers, and groups, such as FWD.us, representing high-tech industries have also written to the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) about the damaging effects that rescinding the H-4 spousal work rule would have on the U.S. economy .

With national and Maine unemployment at record lows at 3.9% and 2.7% respectively,  we need all the workers we can get, and H-4 spouses are already here in the U.S.   It makes no sense to revert to a policy that forces them out of our economy.  Let us hope that DHS and USCIS will rethink their intention to end H-4 spousal work authorization.

Should they move forward to eliminate the rule. there will be a required notice and comment period when the public can register opposition.  Maine businesses that would like more information or assistance in submitting comments should contact MeBIC.

DACA Case Appeal to Be Argued Today; Congress Still Needs to Act

Since the Trump Administration’s September 5, 2017 announcement of its rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the rescission has been challenged in four separate federal lawsuits.  The first of these that resulted in an order requiring the government to resume processing DACA renewal applications will be heard on appeal at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today.   Regardless of the eventual outcome of this case, with a conflict in the Courts, only Congress can end the limbo in which DACA holders now find themselves.

Underscoring the human and economic costs if Congress and the President cannot find a solution to offer these young adults a path to permanent residency is this profile of six DACA holders who recently graduated from Loyola University of Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine.  Upon completion of their residencies, they will practice medicine in underserved communities in Illinois.

The impact of DACA rescission crosses into many critical professions.  For example, many DACA holders are teaching our children, with estimates of the number of DACA teachers nationwide ranging from 8,800 to 20,000.    The Teach for America program has at least 190 “DACAmented” teachers working in high-need urban and rural schools throughout the country.

With nationwide unemployment at 3.9%, the U.S. cannot afford to lose any DACA holders from the workforce, regardless of sector.  So it is heartening that a Republican-led effort is underway to bypass House leadership, which is failing to act, to force the House to vote on four different immigration bills that would offer a path to permanent status for DACA/Dreamers.  As of this writing, 18 Republicans and one Democrat had signed onto the discharge petition to  bring the rare “Queen of the Hill” resolution up for a vote.   It is expected that most House Democrats will sign the petition, so seven more Republicans are needed to reach the 218 representatives needed to force a vote.

Rep. Chellie Pingree has been a strong advocate for path to permanent status for DACA/Dreamers.    Rep. Bruce Poliquin has stated his support for this population as well.   Maine employers should contact Rep. Pingree and Rep. Poliquin to urge them to sign on to the discharge petition, H. Res. 774.   

Administration’s Decision to End TPS Ignores Career Officials’ Contrary Advice

In the past year, the Trump Administration has announced terminations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for over 300,000 individuals living and working in the U.S., many for more than two decades, from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua,  and most recently, on May 4, 2018, Honduras.

TPS is offered to citizens of countries that have experienced natural catastrophes or civil conflict who are in the U.S. in any status when their country is designated for TPS, so that they can live and work here legally until the U.S. government deems conditions safe for them to return.

Recent reports from CNN and the Washington Post reveal that U.S. embassy officials in these four countries advised the Administration strongly against ending TPS, but that ultimately their warnings were ignored. Indeed, the State Department has had in place  “Reconsider travel” warnings, one step down from its highest “Do not travel” warning, since January 2018 for El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras. On May 4, 2018, the State Department updated its “Reconsider travel” warning for Nicaragua to order families of U.S. embassy personnel to leave that country.

Conditions in these countries are not ripe for wholesale repatriation of nearly 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, 57,000 Hondurans and 3000 Nicaraguan TPS holders. Cholera, lack of housing and food insecurity in Haiti, rampant crime and lack of infrastructure in the “northern triangle” countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, plus political instability in the latter two countries, make it unsafe for their citizens with TPS in the U.S. to return.

In addition, these countries’ recovery depends in no small part on the money that TPS holders send home to their family members. As a summary of a June 2017 working paper from the International Monetary Fund states, remittances to Latin American and Caribbean countries

play key financing and stabilizing roles in Central America and the Caribbean. They facilitate private consumption smoothing, support financial sector stability and fiscal revenues, and help reduce poverty and inequality.

World Bank data shows that in 2016, remittances were 17.1% of GDP in El Salvador, 29.4% in Haiti, 18% in Honduras, and 9.6% in Nicaragua. While remittances worldwide fell slightly in 2016, in Latin America and the Caribbean, they rose over 7% from 2015 figures.   And about 80% of Central Americans living outside their countries reside in the U.S., making those who are here the source of the bulk of remittances sent.  Repatriating TPS holders will exacerbate poverty in these countries and will likely push more people to emigrate in order to survive.

Ending TPS will also harm the U.S. economy.   One estimate pegs the costs of ending TPS in the U.S. for Salvadorans, Haitians and Hondurans at over $900 million just in employer turnover expenses alone.   Over a decade, the U.S. would suffer a $45 billion reduction in GDP and nearly $7 billion in lost Social Security and Medicare contributions.

In a recent interview, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, who formerly was Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said

we should fold all of the TPS people that have been here for a considerable period of time and find a way for them to be on a path to citizenship…. (such as) the Central Americans that have been here 20-plus years.

Various bills pending in Congress would do just that. Maine’s delegation should take the lead in pushing for legislation to create a path to permanent legal status both for young DACA/Dreamer adults, and for long-term TPS holders who are integral members of our communities and our economy, and who our own government officials on the ground have warned should not be returned.

Language Matters: An Update

Language matters.  As discussed in a prior post, the current administration has intentionally used terms that mischaracterize U.S. immigration law to help build its case for dramatic immigration reforms that run counter to our nation’s values, and that would damage our economy.

Unfortunately, the administration’s effectiveness in shaping the debate has been enhanced by the mainstream media’s parroting of its misleading terminology.

A case in point is the administration’s use of “chain migration” to refer to the legal system that allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to help their immediate, not extended, family members to immigrate, which the President is actively trying to gut.  His proposed reforms would prevent the reunification of immediate family members such as President Trump’s own German grandfather, who joined his sister who was already in the U.S.; his Scottish mother, who joined her sister here,  and his parents-in-law, brought here by Melania Trump.

More importantly, drastically reducing family based immigration will lead to a vast reduction in overall immigration to the U.S.   Family-based immigration has been a cornerstone of our history.  As the Cato Institute points out, family members work hard, progress, and contribute to the fabric of this country and to the vibrancy of our economy, whether they come with little or fluent English, and with scant formal education or a PhD.

It is critical that the debate around immigration be accurately informed and not tainted by facile and misleading catch phrases.

An effort to educate the media on how use of language such as “chain migration” fails to inform the debate, and instead, misleads, has yielded a victory.  The Associated Press’s 2018 AP Stylebook recently announced that in addition to other changes, it now discourages use of the term “chain migration” unless used in a direct quote.   A small step, but an important one.




Administration to end TPS for Hondurans

On May 4, 2018, the Administration announced that it will end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hondurans.  TPS was offered to Hondurans already in the U.S., following the devastation that Hurricane Mitch caused in their country in October 1998.

Congress created TPS to allow citizens of countries hard hit by natural disasters or civil conflict who are already in the U.S., to apply to stay and work here legally until our government determines they can safely return.  TPS is normally granted and extended in 12 or 18-month increments.

The decision to terminate TPS, following one final 18 month extention until January 5, 2020,  will affect about 57,000 Honduran citizens who have been living and working legally in the U.S. since 1999.   Their TPS has been repeatedly renewed as Honduras has struggled with environmental and political turmoil, and has become infamous for having one of the highest homicide rates in the world.    A 2017 report by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Diplomatic Security highlights Honduras’s high crime rates, including kidnappings, robberies, extortion, homicides and gang violence, and also difficult living conditions such as limited available medical care and damage to infrastructure due to frequent hurricanes, flooding and mudslides.  Since January  2018, the U.S. State Department has warned travelers to reconsider going to Honduras – just one level shy of their highest “Do Not Travel” warning.  The Administration’s decision to terminate TPS flies in the face of ample evidence that it is not safe for Hondurans to return.

Data from the Center for Migration Studies  shows that Hondurans with TPS have lived in the U.S. an average of 22 years, are estimated to be the parents of over 53,000 U.S. citizen children, and nearly 10,000 are homeowners.   Their workforce participation, at 85%, is also higher than that of native-born U.S. citizens, at 63%.

On April 26, 2018, the Administration also announced that it would end TPS for citizens from Nepal who were granted TPS following the earthquake in 2015.  Previously, it had announced the end of TPS for Haitians, Nicaraguans, Salvadorans, and Sudanese.

Altogether, ending TPS for these countries means the removal of over 300,000 individuals from our communities.    The human toll as families are divided is incalculable, but there will also be enormous economic costs in lost contributions to Social Security and Medicare, and decreases in our GDP, without even calculating the government’s cost to deport those whose TPS is terminated.

As the nation’s, and Maine’s unemployment rates hit record lows, can we really afford to lose these TPS holders?   Together with the estimated 720,000  community members and workers at risk of losing their status following the Administration’s rescission of the DACA program, the Administration’s termination of TPS will force over 1,000,000 people out of our economy when we need them more than ever.

Congress must pass legislation to create a path to permanent residency for long-term TPS holders.  Various bills have been proposed to do just that.   Maine’s Congressional delegation should work to resolve this issue urgently.


New DACA Lawsuit Aims to End Program

On May 1, 2018, Texas and six other states filed suit against the Administration, seeking an injunction and a decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood  Arrivals (DACA) program.

Unlike the four other previous lawsuits about DACA that have resulted in three decisions finding the Administration’s September 5, 2017 rescission of DACA unlawful, this most recent suit alleges that the DACA program itself is unconstitutional.  It seeks to block the processing of any initial or renewal DACA applications, a result which would contravene two prior federal court orders requiring the Government to continue processing DACA renewal applications, and the most recent decision that may ultimately require resumption of processing of new, initial, DACA applications.

Texas’s Attorney General has been a long-time outspoken opponent of DACA, and his threat to sue if the Administration did not end the program by September 5, 2017 was a stated rationale for the Administration’s decision to do just that.  Texas’s new lawsuit heightens the likelihood of conflicting  federal court decisions that will land the DACA litigation in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the lives of DACA/Dreamers are in limbo, with no certainty about their ability to remain in the U.S. as five separate cases wend their way through the federal courts.  This issue should be solved by Congress, not the courts.

With overwhelming public support for a path to permanent status for DACA/Dreamers, and with the country’s shrinking pool of workers as “Baby Boomer” retire,  Congress should act urgently to ensure that these young adults who have lived most of their lives in the U.S. can remain here to contribute to their communities and the U.S. economy permanently.