Amid the high stakes poker currently being played in Congress over what to do about the beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a comment by President Trump was interpreted to mean that there would be agreement on how to provide some form of permanent amnesty for them. The president stated that he was sympathetic to this subset of illegal aliens and wanted to protect them from deportation. But sympathy does not necessarily translate into unconditional amnesty. Looking below the surface, there appears to be a great gulf between the Democrats and Republicans.
On the Democrat side, the leadership is insisting on the enactment of the DREAM Act as stand-alone legislation. That bill not only provides green cards for all of the illegal aliens who qualified for and signed up for the limited DACA amnesty, but all other illegal aliens who might qualify in the future on the basis of age and education or other qualifying standard. That position also rejects all (or most) of the administration’s immigration reform agenda in exchange for the amnesty.
On the Republican side, there appears to be a wider range of options. The narrowest option is to simply allow those who have already received DACA status to stay for a fixed period or indefinitely but not offering them permanent legal residence, i.e. green cards. They would not be deportable unless they committed a crime – as at present – but would not become eligible for U.S. citizenship and the ability to sponsor their family members including the illegal alien parents who brought them or who they came to join.
Also in the mix of issues on the Republican side is an extensive immigration reform agenda that the White House has called for in exchange for addressing the status of DACA beneficiaries. These include border wall construction, increased interior enforcement, and a reform of legal immigration in the national interest. If all of these issues are addressed, especially elimination of family chain migration, that might ease concerns about giving green cards to the DACA beneficiaries.
At present, despite the surface appearance that there could be common ground, there is a disjoint in views akin to the battle of the Zax on the Prairie of Prax (kudos to Dr. Seuss). The impending possible government shut down while negotiating the immigration issues raises the prospect that someone will have to accept less than they have promised their constituents.