Streamlined, Bipartisan Immigration Bill Offered to Resolve DACA Dilemma

With the February 8th deadline for debate on DACA imminent and the March 5th DACA termination deadline approaching, legislators have been introducing bills to resolve the long-standing “Dreamer” issue.

Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.) have introduced a simplified measure combining DACA and border security. It would grant permanent legal status to more than 1.8 million “Dreamers.” It also would enhance security on the U.S. southern border initially through the use of drones and other technology. Under the bill, DHS must prepare a proposal regarding border security strategy within a year of passage. The bill does not provide immediate funding for a border wall. It is a companion bill to the bi-partisan Uniting and Securing America Act of 2017 (USA Act of 2017), introduced in the House by Representatives Will Hurd (R-Tex.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Cal.). That bill has 54 co-sponsors – 27 Democrats and 27 Republicans.

In an interview, Senator Coons stated he expect some border funding would have to be added. He also explained that he would continue to work with the “Common Sense Coalition” headed by Senators Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Joseph Manchin (D-W. Va.) to find a compromise on a path forward.

Earlier bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) took a similar tack. Reportedly, President Donald Trump initially supported that bill, before ultimately rejecting it. Regarding Coons-McCain, President Trump has already tweeted the following:

Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time . . . March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!

The Administration continues to focus on its “four pillars” framework: border security (including a $25-billion trust fund for a wall), a 10- to 12-year path to citizenship for 1.8 million “Dreamers,” an end to “chain migration,” and an end to the diversity visa lottery. The McCain-Coons bill streamlines the issues and addresses only a pathway for Dreamers and enhanced border security.

In the meantime, DACA beneficiaries may continue to apply for renewal, while they await further court rulings. A case of particular interest is whether the Supreme Court will grant certiorari to review the legality of President Trump’s rescission of the DACA program.