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Trump and Democrats Haggle Over DACA as 250,000 Students Await Fate

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 14, 2017 2 min read
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Congress and President Donald Trump may soon strike a deal to solidify protections for undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally as young children, but things remain very much up in the air.

Late Wednesday, according to news reports, Democratic leaders in Congress announced that they had brokered a deal with the president to pass legislation that would in some way enshrine the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Barack Obama began through executive order in 2012.

On Thursday, Trump denied he had reached such an agreement with Senate Minority Leader Trump Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—but soon afterwards, he said he was making progress with lawmakers to stop DACA beneficiaries from being deported. Trump announced last week that he would end DACA in six months unless Congress acted to codify it in law.

Click here for our in-depth look at where DACA could end up in Congress. The end of DACA could impact about 800,000 people in the U.S. who are covered by the program, including about 250,000 school-age children who are eligible for DACA, according to an estimate from the Migration Policy Institute. There are at least two Dream Act bills that would cover DACA beneficiaries currently up for consideration in Congress, one co-authored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and the other by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.

A third Dream Act bill was introduced by Sens. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Here’s an outline of the legislation from Tillis, who said that the bill represents a middle path between large-scale amnesty and mass deportation:

However, the bills have different requirements for when “dreamers” could apply for conditional legal status and permanent residency. And some of those differences hinge on educational attainment. To obtain permanent residency, for example, Curbelo’s bill would impose somewhat stricter requirements for students seeking to qualify through progress in higher education.

Roughly 20,000 teachers could also be impacted by the end of DACA. Our colleague Corey Mitchell has covered this issue in schools extensively, including how “dreamers” are preparing for a fight across the K-12 landscape.

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