DACA Litigation and Legislation Update
DACA was set to terminate on March 5, 2018, based on President Donald Trump’s September 2017 announcement. To avoid the termination, the President challenged Congress to negotiate a legislative solution for the Dreamers. Negotiations ensued, but so did litigation and the issuance of an injunction. A federal court ordered DHS to continue to accept DACA renewal applications and, eventually, the March 5th deadline passed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit likely will be the next court to issue a ruling. Following that, the case likely will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the meantime, although DACA beneficiaries still have a “window of opportunity” during which they can apply to renew DACA status, the future is unclear. Legislation could offer a permanent solution, but pending bills have been blocked and not been passed in either the House or the Senate.
To find a more permanent solution for the Dreamers, Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) is heading up the charge to force a vote on the House floor by way of a discharge petition. With a discharge petition, it is possible to bypass the Speaker of the House and bring a bill to the floor. It requires a simple majority of 218 votes and, assuming all House Democrats sign on, Curbelo would need an additional 25 House Republicans – as of May 15, 18 Republicans and one Democrat have signed. Assuming the discharge petition gathers the necessary support, the House would take up four bills using the obscure “Queen of the Hill” rule. Under that rule, the bill with the most votes, or a plurality, would pass.
The bills offered for consideration would include one bill selected by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) along with:
The Securing America’s Future Act, sponsored by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), which:
- Creates a three-year renewable legal status for DACA beneficiaries
- Ends “chain migration”
- Ends the Diversity Lottery
- Increases the number of Green Cards for skilled workers
- Creates a new agricultural guest worker program
- Strengthens border security
The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, sponsored in the Senate by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), which:
- Allows DACA recipients and other Dreamers to apply for Green Cards
- Creates a path to citizenship
- Improves college affordability
The USA (Uniting and Security America) Act, sponsored by Representatives Will Hurd (R-Tex.) and Pete Aguilar (D-Cal.) in the House, which:
- Offers a permanent legislative fix for DACA beneficiaries
- Institute smarter border security measures
Under the Queen of the Hill rule, House members may vote for more than one bill, but only the bill with the most votes would pass.