The House Judiciary Committee had been scheduled this week to mark up the Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which provides protections and a path to citizenship for Dreamers, as well as Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders, who also have experienced uncertainty since the Trump administration ended those policies. We are in full support of this bill, along with many in the higher education community. However, the short-term fate of H.R. 6 is now unclear. Different factions in the House Democratic caucus are seeking to make changes, which calls into doubt whether the bill could even pass a committee vote at the moment.
There are four roadblocks: 1) While H.R. 6 currently has 230 Democratic cosponsors, no Republicans have signed on; 2) There is disagreement among Democrats over how much (if any) legal trouble would disqualify a Dreamer from pursuing citizenship; 3) Democrats are worried about possible Republican amendments that would force Democrats to make a hard vote; and 4) Ongoing efforts to investigate the administration over issues related to the Mueller investigation are now at the heart of the Judiciary Committee’s work, so everything else is being pushed to the side—especially anything that requires consensus building or that may prove politically controversial.
Supporters of the bill are pushing for markup before Memorial Day, but that is becoming more and more unlikely. However, House Democratic leadership remains committed to this bill and plan to take it to committee when they are fully confident about the outcome. On the other hand, there is almost no discussion of the issue in the Senate—at least that we can see—and virtually no chance as it stands now that the House legislation will be considered in that chamber.
We will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for a permanent solution to protect Dreamers. But it’s hard to be optimistic about the prospects for the full Congress agreeing on such a solution this year.
White House restarts work on an immigration proposal: The White House hosted a meeting this week between the president, senior White House advisors, and Republican senators to work on a plan to expand “merit-based” immigration, giving preference to those with certain skills or degrees rather than immigrants seeking family-based admission to the country. It appears that the plan will not address Dreamers and others in temporary protected status. The White House would package that legislative proposal with a border security bill that would modernize security at the borders. Critics noted that the White House meeting only included conservative Republican senators who have objected to previously proposed bipartisan immigration bills.
The bottom line is that while there continues to be discussion and rhetoric around immigration from both House Democrats and the administration, the lack of bipartisan discussions will likely slow down any substantive action around addressing DACA or other important immigration issues.