Deferred Action Could be the Key to Ending the Shutdown

Is it possible that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program might be the key to ending the government shutdown? A DACA-for-border-funding compromise that was taken off the table a year ago is again being talked about by some lawmakers. Here is an update on where DACA stands.

On September 5, 2017, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA would be terminated. This led to multiple lawsuits filed in California, New York, Maryland, D.C., and Texas. Two of the cases resulted in injunctions that are still keeping DACA alive. The Administration has fought to get these cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, but has been denied. Of the five cases, only one, Texas v. Nielsen, is likely to support the termination of DACA, but even that case is being held up as the Court has ordered the government to expand its response to an amended complaint.

In the meantime, Congress had been under pressure to act before the announced DACA-termination date (March 2018). A number of solutions were floated. Measures were suggested that would trade help for the “dreamers” for border wall funding, including a bipartisan plan that provided $25 billion for border security (over a 10-year period), in exchange for DACA protections. But the Trump Administration rejected this plan in January 2018 on the eve of another government shutdown (that lasted for a weekend). Meanwhile, efforts to arrive at a legislative compromise slowed down once the initial injunction that prevented the Administration from terminating DACA was entered in the Regents of the University of California v. DHS. Even though DACA beneficiaries continued to be in limbo, the problem lost its immediacy.

Now, the government shutdown is creating another possible opening and a “DACA for the wall” deal is being floated by the Administration. Jared Kushner, who has been speaking with Congressional Democrats, stressed that any talk about DACA in which he has been engaged has merely been an attempt to “sound out” members of Congress. Members of Congress, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have recently suggested various DACA fixes to end the shutdown. Senator Graham, however, noted that these proposals are in the “infant” stage.