Congressional Democrats Push To Include DACA In Budget Package

By Steve Goldstein
Alisa Reznick, AZPM
Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 8:38am
Updated: Saturday, September 18, 2021 - 8:30am

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DACA protest U.S. Capitol
Protesters march past the U.S. Capitol in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2017.

This week, the parliamentarian of the U.S. Senate is deliberating on whether to allow a sweeping immigration reform measure into a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package proposed by congressional Democrats.

The measure could give some 8 million undocumented immigrants a pathway to legal status — including those brought to the U.S. as children — known as Dreamers. Aaron Reichlin Melnick with the American Immigration Council says it’s the first time in years.

"In 2013, the Dream Act just barely failed to pass in the Senate," Melnick said. "Now, in 2021, it feels like this is the best chance to succeed where that bill failed."

Former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — gave some Dreamers protection from deportation and a work permit. Recipient Jose Patiño of Phoenix says it was a lifeline.

"You start to imagine what could be the reality, what could be true," Patiño said.

But DACA was always temporary. This package could change that.

Patiño said he looked forward to permanent solution: "Finally having a pathway to citizenship, not thinking about your status, not having to renew your DACA."

To include the measure in the broader reconciliation package, Democrats must prove to the parliamentarian it will significantly impact the federal budget. A decision could happen as early as this week.

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