DACA Showdown Looms as Republicans Introduce Expansive New Immigration Bill

December 08, 2017

As the possibility of a year-end Congressional conflict over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) hangs over Washington, a group of Republican senators introduced legislation that combines elements of the BRIDGE Act, which would end DACA in three years without offering a path to citizenship, and the RAISE Act, which limits family migration, among a variety of border security provisions.  The bill, entitled the SECURE Act, would also prohibit granting an alien an employment visa or authorization until any background or security checks "deemed necessary by the Secretary [of Homeland Security] or the Attorney General, in his or her sole and unreviewable discretion, for the alien have been completed; and the Secretary or the Attorney General has determined that the results of such checks do not preclude [their] approval or grant."  In introducing the various sections of the expansive bill, sponsor Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said, "The BRIDGE Act... would provide relief from deportation and work authorization to DACA recipients, allowing them to continue to fulfill their dreams and contribute to our economy."  Reportedly, Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has offered a counterproposal with a permanent DACA solution that includes a path to citizenship while rejecting the SECURE Act as a nonstarter.  Meanwhile, Democrats have threatened to force the addition of a DACA measure to a year-end spending bill by means of a government shutdown.  Republicans are split on the issue, as certain Senate Republicans have said they are open to a permanent DACA fix and 34 House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) this week seeking the passage of a "permanent legislative solution for [DACA] recipients before the end of the year."  However, Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), a cosponsor of the SECURE Act, has indicated he is not open to adding DACA legislation to any year-end spending measure.  Earlier this fall, 110 HR Policy member CHROs signed a letter urging Members of Congress and the Trump administration to consider in future policymaking the vital role foreign-born workers play in the U.S. economy, starting with the legislative authorization of the DACA program.