U.S. lawmakers said Congress still must act to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation, despite an apparent reprieve by the Supreme Court, which on Monday declined to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower-court injunction that keeps protections for so-called “Dreamers” in place.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said “it remains to be seen” how court battles will play out surrounding President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama administration program that provided temporary work and study permits to immigrants brought to America as children.
“Certainly, the Supreme Court’s decision relieves the pressure of the March 5 [DACA] deadline,” Collins said. “It does not remove the cloud that’s over the Dreamers that they might ultimately be at risk of deportation.”
Recent weeks saw federal judges in California and New York issue injunctions against ending DACA, which Trump had set to expire on March 5. So far, Congress has yet to pass a permanent solution addressing the legal status of DACA beneficiaries and others who have been eligible for the program.
Earlier this month, the Senate rejected four separate immigration proposals — from bipartisan bills that paired legal status for DACA recipients with limited enhancements to U.S. border security to a Republican proposal that encapsulated Trump’s far-reaching “blueprint” for immigration reform.
Sources close to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky indicated McConnell is in no hurry to relaunch Senate debate on the topic.
“The president and the courts are going to do what they are going to do,” a McConnell aide told VOA. “That doesn’t change the fact that we need 60 votes [for a bill to advance in the Senate] to clear the House, and the president needs to sign it.”
The Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said he takes only limited comfort from the Supreme Court, opting to allow challenges to Trump’s DACA order to play out in lower courts.
“I don’t know that the actual hearing and trial at the lower levels is going to be sooner or later, whether it’s going to take a matter of weeks, months, or longer. But because of President Trump’s decision, there is a built-in uncertainty in the lives of almost 1 million people in this country,” Durbin said.
Meanwhile, senators of both parties said they aren’t giving up on legislation granting DACA beneficiaries a permanent foothold in the United States.
“I, personally, would like to see some certainty, and that would come about through legislation,” said Collins, who helped craft one of the bipartisan proposals defeated in the Senate.
“We need predictability, and we need certainty [for Dreamers],” Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen said. “And that means Congress should act.”
VOA’s Megan Duzor contributed to this report.