DACA Solution Still Urgently Needed

March 5, 2018 has arrived.  That’s the date that the Trump Administration declared as the last day of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.   It’s the date by which President Trump said Congress should craft a solution to allow DACA holders  to stay permanently in the U.S.

Were it not for two federal court injunctions  compelling the U.S. government to continue to accept DACA renewal applications, over 1000 DACA holders each day would now be losing their protected status and work permission.  But this is only a temporary reprieve; the government is appealing those decisions, and on March 5, 2018, a third federal court upheld the DACA rescission.

The nearly 800,000 individuals who have had DACA, including a few hundred from Maine, now live in limbo, their futures in suspense. These are people who are working, studying,  serving in the U.S. military, volunteering, and contributing in myriad ways to our nation, which is also theirs, given that many have no memories of the countries where they were born.

That limbo ripples far beyond DACA holders themselves. Employers don’t know if they will be able to keep their DACA employees on payroll.  Universities don’t know if their DACA students will be able to continue studying (and paying valuable tuition fees).  DACA holders have bought cars and homes, and their ability to repay their lenders will evaporate when they no longer have DACA work authorization.

President Trump said multiple times that he wanted to protect the DACA/Dreamers, but that Congress needed to act.   He said he would sign any bill that Congress sent to him. Congress did act, proposing a path to permanent residency for DACA/Dreamers and funding for increased border security, including an expanded border wall. But President Trump rejected that proposal, upping the ante and insisting on a complete and drastic overhaul of our nation’s immigration laws that would divide families and make us less globally competitive for labor, in exchange for a DACA/Dreamer solution.

Congress was right to reject President Trump’s demands. But Congress must continue the fight for permanent residency for DACA/Dreamers.   Our communities need them, our economy needs them, and it is the right and humane thing to do. Senators Collins and King were leaders in crafting a bipartisan solution for the DACA/Dreamers.   They should continue to press for action.