An agreement on the future of so-called Dreamers has been a stumbling block for Congress. As they passed a measure to reopen the federal government this week, Republican Senate leaders assured Democrats that they will take up the issue soon.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children to go to school and work here. But the Trump Administration has announced the program will end on March 5th.
Immigration advocates hoped a deal could be reached to extend DACA or provide recipients a path to citizenship as federal lawmakers negotiated a government funding bill in Congress. Some advocates hoped Democrats would refuse funding unless a deal could be made.
"We needed to maintain whatever leverage we had and people who had promise to advocate for the dreamers have now given up that important leverage,” said Marion Davis, spokeswoman at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
Connecticut DACA recipients say they are disappointed that Congress passed a second stopgap funding bill without an immigration deal.
“We were hoping for something to be passed in the last few days, so we are disappointed that nothing was done,” said Camila Bortolleto, who is part of the canceled Obama-era program. “All we got was kind of another promise. We don’t know if we can trust the Republicans at this point. Or anyone in Congress, for that matter.”
Bortolleto said she hopes Congress will take action on DACA before government funding runs out on February 8th. She says several of her peers started being deported last year. That was after the Trump Administration canceled the DACA program and left Congress to create an alternative.
This report comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies coming together to tell the story of a changing region with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.