It’s been more than five months since the president terminated DACA, creating a crisis for hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth and their families. After months of inaction, the Senate is finally casting votes today on four proposals. These votes come as the result of powerful organizing led by immigrant youth in the halls of Congress and in communities across the country and in Tennessee.
We have been fighting for permanent protection for immigrant youth that does not cause harm to their parents or their communities. Today, there is only one bill being considered that we can support: the bipartisan, “USA Act” introduced by Senators McCain and Coons.
Below is more information about each of the amendments and our analysis.
Since the president terminated DACA, extremists in the White House and Congress have been trying to hold DACA recipients hostage in order to advance their anti-immigrant agenda. Trump created this crisis, and now it’s up to Congress to fix it. This is not the time to debate broader immigration reform which has repeatedly failed. This is a crisis. Nearly 20,000 youth have lost their DACA protections and are subject to deportations. We need a narrow solution that protects Dreamers without harming their families or communities.
A quick note on process: each proposal (amendment) will get a vote in the Senate, but will need 60 votes to pass (which means both Democrats and Republicans votes are needed). Whatever passes in the Senate will then be debated in the (much more conservative) House. The White House has threatened to veto any amendment except the unacceptable Grassley amendment which we oppose. Follow our social media accounts for the latest updates.
SENATE AMENDMENTS TO BE VOTED ON TODAY
McCain (R-AZ) - Coons (D-DE) Uniting and Securing America Act (USA Act)
Our Position: SUPPORT
This bipartisan bill would grant permanent legal status to youth - much like the Dream Act - and start bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border. It would not immediately authorize spending the $25 billion President Trump is seeking to fortify the border with new wall and fence construction. Also, it would cover more Dreamers than the White House proposal, and has no changes to legal/family immigration. More information and details of the bill here.
While we have been advocating for a clean Dream Act that only addresses the DACA crisis, we support this bill moving forward as a narrow compromise that would create a generous pathway to citizenship and some sensible border security policies. It is worth noting that the border provisions of the bill were drafted in consultation with border communities. This is the most narrow of the bills on the table, and the only acceptable solution of those being debated today. It is the Senate version of the Hurd/Aguilar bill in the House.
Grassley’s (R-IA) Secure & Succeed Act
Our Position: OPPOSE
The bill claims it will provide legal status for 1.8 million Dreamers, but it uses a restrictive definition for eligibility that will likely exclude thousands of young people. It would also lengthen the pathway to citizenship, and allocate $25 billion for radical militarization of the border. Not only does it ramp up deportations and adds more rogue ICE and border patrol agents, but it also upends our entire immigration system, eliminating family reunification visas and the diversity visa program. More information available here.
This bill is a non-starter. It holds the futures of youth hostage in order to advance a white supremacist wish list to include radically escalated militarization of the border, terrorization of families, the creation of barriers to keep people of color out of our country, and attacks on family unity.
Rounds (R-SD)/King (I-ME) - “Common Sense Coalition Compromise”
Our Position: OPPOSE
This amendment is the last-minute compromise put together by the "common sense coalition." The bill includes protections that are similar (but more restrictive) than the Dream Act but has incredibly troubling provisions that restrict opportunities for the parents of Dreamers to adjust their status and would appropriate $25 billion dollars to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for use at the border. For the first time ever, the bill would codify ICE’s enforcement priorities, taking away the agency’s discretion and setting a dangerous precedent for decades to come. The bill also cuts a category of family visas and re-allocates those visas to another category. More details here.
We oppose the Rounds/King amendment on the substance of the bill, but also because we know that it will be made significantly worse in the more conservative House. The bill is an unacceptable starting point for negotiations in the House. We believe that a fix for DACA should be a narrow one, and not include such significant changes to our immigration policy, and that any solution for immigrant youth should not come at the expense of their parents or other immigrant communities.
We oppose criminalizing and punishing parents. Under this amendment parents of Dreamers who qualify for permanent status would not be eligible to adjust their status through a petition by their Dreamer child if they knowingly assisted in that child's unlawful entry into the U.S. We stand with border communities who oppose the $25 billion appropriation to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for use at the border. This bill puts millions of people that live in border communities at risk and contains weak accountability measures for DHS. And we oppose codifying enforcement priorities into law. The bill specifically names new arrivals as enforcement priorities for DHS, as well as those with criminal records. This takes away any discretion from the department, or individual agents, or the next president in exercising prosecutorial discretion, while further criminalizing the immigrant community.
Toomey’s (R-PA) Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act
Our Position: OPPOSE
This is a partisan bill that has nothing to do with DACA or keeping our communities safe. All it does is punishes cities and other jurisdictions for doing what is best for their community safety and for upholding the Constitution. It is a cheap attempt to score political points at a time when Congress should be focused on protecting Dreamers.
It does nothing to protect immigrant youth. This amendment would withhold millions of dollars in critical community and economic development funding, which will only make communities less safe. Law enforcement leaders have opposed proposals like this because it undermines community policing and diverts critical resources from public services.