Schumer asks Congress to save DACA this month

Redacción Agencias | 9/7/2017, 7:25 a.m.
Schumer asks Congress to save DACA this month
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer | Foto Cortesía

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Wednesday asked Republican lawmakers to approve a bill to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has prevented the deportation of some 800,000 young undocumented migrants but was suspended this week by President Donald Trump.

"The president's decision to end DACA was heartless, and it was brainless," said Schumer at a Capitol press conference in Washington.

Trump on Tuesday announced that he was ending the DACA program, but he attached a six-month grace period to his decision to give Congress until March 5, 2018, to clarify the situation of the young foreigners - known as DREAMers - who were illegally brought to this country without papers as children.

Surrounded by dozens of Democratic lawmakers, Schumer asked Republicans to approve - as soon as possible - a bill known as the Dream Act, an initiative that was presented for the first time in the Senate in 2001 and which would allow the DREAMers to obtain permanent residence and, later, US citizenship.

The legislative proposal was recently re-introduced in the Senate by Democratic Dick Durbin and his Republican counterpart Lindsey Graham, who on Tuesday asked lawmakers from both parties to back the bill and approve a law to protect the DREAMers before the end of the month.

While Democrats have closed ranks in defense of the DACA beneficiaries, the GOP has been divided with its more moderate wing favoring a solution similar to the Dream Act and its ultraconservative wing opposed to regularizing the situation of the young undocumented migrants, many of whom are working and studying here - in the only country they have ever known.

The ultraconservative group, headed by Trump, wants to include in the bill Congress must approve within six months funds for construction of the controversial US-Mexico border wall, an idea that is unanimously opposed by Democratic lawmakers.

Given the possibility that the Republicans might try to use DACA as a ploy to get funds for the wall, Schumer threatened to incorporate the Dream Act into any proposal that would come up for approval this fall, including the budget bill to finance government operations.

Congress needs to approve a budget for Fiscal 2018 before Oct. 1 and, if that does not occur, it would result in at least a partial government shutdown.

The last time such a thing occurred was in 2013, with thousands of government employees left temporarily unemployed.