Politics

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Calls On DHS To Protect DACA Recipients

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

Top members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) called on the Department of Homeland Security to ensure protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remain in tact in a letter written to DHS Secretary Kirstjen  Nielsen Thursday.

Congress has struggled to come to a consensus on an immigration bill that can pass both chambers in the wake of President Donald Trump’s September announcement the Obama-era initiative that extended temporary legal status to foreign nationals who illegally entered the country as minors would end in March.

“We urgently write to you as it has become increasingly clear that President Trump and his Administration have failed to display the leadership and bipartisan work required to come to a narrow and broadly supported solution to protect Dreamers,”the members of the CHC wrote. “It has been nearly six months since President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and in those months more than 20,000 DACA recipients have fallen out of status.”

While a federal court ruling temporarily staves off the elimination of DACA, the CHC argues steps need to be taken to eliminate the threat of deportation should the court ruling be overturned before an immigration bill is passed.

“As we approach President Trump’s self-imposed March 5th DACA deadline, it is critical that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reaffirm that current DACA recipients, and those that have fallen out of status since President Trump rescinded the program, will not be subject to removal,” the letter reads. “Furthermore, we urge DHS to ensure that the information provided by DACA applicants remain confidential and protected and will not be used for enforcement purposes.”

The Supreme Court rejected the administration’s request to expedite its review of the lower court ruling. A number of lawmakers said the Supreme Court announcement takes some of the pressure off to rush a bill through Congress, but critics argue the issue shouldn’t be put on the back burner.

“While there is ongoing DACA related litigation, DACA recipients continue to face uncertainty about their future. It is untenable that thousands of these young immigrants and their families live in fear and uncertainty about their jobs, schooling and futures because Republican leadership and President Trump refuse to address this imminent crisis and negotiate a narrow bipartisan agreement,” the CHC letter continues. “President Trump and Republican Leadership have chosen to hold Dreamers hostage in order to advance the President’s deeply unpopular and punitive anti-immigrant agenda. We cannot avert this crisis unless Republican Leadership and President Trump come to the table with a focus and willingness to protect Dreamers.”

House Republican leadership is currently whipping a conservative-backed bill — spearheaded by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul — that provides protections for Dreamers and funding for a wall along the southern border. But Democrats and a number of moderate Republicans have blasted the measure for placing limits on family-based visas and changes to the visa lottery program.

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