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ACE, Higher Education Groups Back BRIDGE Act for DACA Recipients

January 13, 2017

Fate of DACA and Nation’s Immigration Policy Under Trump Administration Is Uncertain

​Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bill yesterday to provide temporary relief from deportation and employment authorization for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and DACA-eligible individuals.

The DACA program, established in 2012 under President Obama via executive action, permits young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children and meet certain other criteria to stay for two years at a time without fear of deportation and to obtain work permits.

More than 750,000 young people have received DACA status since the program’s creation, many of whom are college students. In a letter yesterday to Graham and Durbin, ACE and 20 other higher education associations expressed support for their legislation, known as the Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy (BRIDGE) Act (S. 128).

“The bill would extend fundamental fairness to these students, permitting them to continue studying or working and establish a firm statutory basis for the program while Congress debates legislation addressing a permanent solution,” the groups wrote.

The temporary protected status granted under the BRIDGE Act would expire after three years.

Other supporters of the bill include Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA). Reps. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) are introducing companion legislation in the House.

The fate of both DACA and the BRIDGE Act is unclear at this point. During his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has been nominated to be attorney general, said repealing DACA would “certainly be constitutional.” Sessions previously called DACA policy a “colossal executive overreach,” as Politico’s Morning Education reported this week.

Sessions said Tuesday that as attorney general, he would “have no objection to have a decision to ban that order because it is very questionable, in my opinion, constitutionally," though he stopped short of saying he would encourage the president-elect to do so. (For more on DACA and this week’s confirmation hearings, see “Dreamers Face Uncertain Future After Confirmation Hearings” in TIME.)

Amid uncertainty about the fate of DACA and the nation’s immigration policy under the Trump administration, ACE released an issue brief in December that addresses matters such as the data DACA applicants submitted in their applications; sanctuary campuses; institutional pledges of non-cooperation; and complying with requests by federal officials for records identifying undocumented students or other community members.

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