After the Supreme Court ruled Thursday to temporarily keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in place, Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a more permanent solution for Dreamers, the young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a longtime advocate for Dreamers, pleaded with fellow senators to back legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for certain immigrants. He noted that although the Supreme Court ruled that President Donald Trump was wrong in the way he tried to end DACA, the administration could rescind the program again. Plus, the two-year permits to stay and work in the U.S. offered under DACA are far from a permanent fix.
“Let us protect them now,” Durbin said of Dreamers on the Senate floor. “We can enact that law and say to these young people, ‘Now you have your chance to stay and earn your path to citizenship in America’ — that’s what we ought to be saying.”
In its 5-4 decision issued Thursday, the court ruled that Trump’s effort to terminate the program was an “arbitrary” and “capricious” violation of the law, which means that, for the moment, nearly 650,000 undocumented young people are safe from deportation. To enact a more permanent solution, Durbin and other prominent Democrats are demanding that the GOP-led Senate pass the American Dream and Promise Act, which the Democratic-led House passed in June last year.
The American Dream and Promise Act would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The Senate version, called the Dream Act, has yet to reach the floor.
While some Republicans have voiced support for legal status for Dreamers, Trump and many GOP lawmakers have in the past conditioned that support on other measures, such as funding for a border wall, restricting asylum and limiting legal immigration.
“This painful process demands that Congress permanently protect Dreamers—Senate must pass the American Dream and Promise Act,” the Congressional Hispanic Caucus tweeted Immediately following the SCOTUS decision.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) similarly called out her Republican colleagues for their inaction on the American Dream and Promise Act.
“I’m happy the Supreme Court upheld DACA to protect Dreamers from the crisis Trump created,” Warren tweeted Thursday. “But we can’t stop here. The House passed the American Dream & Promise Act over a year ago. @SenateGOP: stop the political games & pass this bill for Dreamers & their families.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined the chorus demanding Senate action. She said the legislation would “provide more than 2 million Dreamers a shot at the American Dream.”
“It’s time for Senate Republicans to stop stonewalling and stand with Dreamers,” Pelosi tweeted.
It’s unclear whether the push for legislation will go anywhere.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is facing a tough reelection bid this year, said the Supreme Court decision provides some clarity, but that “Congress still needs to reach a long-term solution for Dreamers in the United States—including a pathway to citizenship.”
“I support immediate passage of the Dream Act and would also support the House-passed Dream and Promise Act,” Gardner tweeted Thursday. “The Senate should act quickly to provide permanent relief for Dreamers. I’ll continue to work across the aisle to deliver certainty for Dreamers in a way the Court cannot.”
Most Republicans derided the Supreme Court without arguing for Congress to act now. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is also up for reelection, said earlier this week that Congress would bring up legislation if DACA was terminated. But after the order, he turned to bashing Democrats.
Democrats “voted against a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers after President Trump’s generous offer to do so,” Cornyn tweeted in response to criticism from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
Although the Trump administration did offer a path to legal status for Dreamers in January 2018, it was one that would take 12 years. The package also included hardline immigration measures, such as a $25 billion “trust fund” for a border wall and limits to legal immigration.