There is a lot of concern about what will happen to immigration law and practice now that Trump is our President elect and that Republicans have majorities in both the Senate and Congress. Hecht & Norman believe that there are actually sound reasons to be hopeful about immigration reform that would help DREAMers and many others too.
What is the basis for our optimism? Trump stated during the campaign that he would end all immigration executive actions put in place by President Obama. One such executive action was creating the DACA program. Because the DACA program was created by Presidential executive action, it can be undone by the same action. It is clear that President Trump, at any time beginning January 20, 2017 (which is inauguration day), could end the DACA program. Whether he will do that or not is unknown, but we believe he will.
If President Trump ends DACA, it could result in a number of different things happening. First, he could simply stop new DACA applications from being approved. Second, he could also stop renewals from being granted. Third, he could actually revoke any previously approved period of DACA.
So there is a high probability that DACA will end. However, paradoxically, the new political calculus in Washington may allow for the DREAM Act to be passed. And that would be a great move forward, allowing permanent legal status to as many as 700,000 young Americans by 2020.
Here’s why. Even though the DREAM Act failed to pass the Senate in 2010, it was close, and it could be passed in the future. DREAMers have enjoyed widespread support from Democrats and even a number of Republicans. Even very right-wing Republicans who advocate for no immigration have expressed sympathy for DREAMers. The case for DREAMers being given legal status is much stronger than any other group of immigrants who are currently undocumented.
As a result, there is a chance that the DREAM act could resurface as compromise legislation, particularly if Trump and/or the Republicans move on stricter immigration rules and harsher policies overall. Democrats and Republicans will still have to work together to get any new laws passed, and if President Trump wants to accomplish anything, he will have to compromise to get what he wants.
That leaves some room for DREAMers – and citizens who believe in their cause — to participate in the immigration debate over what our laws should be in the future. Hecht & Norman considers all DREAMers to be Americans, even if they do not yet enjoy full citizenship or legally recognized status. We urge all DREAMers and citizens sympathetic to their cause to make your voice heard in a peaceful way, just the way our democracy allows us to do in this country. Part of being American is having the strength to stand up and voice your opinion, and we hope you will continue to advocate for the DREAM act. That means joining with the activists who are asking for assistance in peaceful demonstrations and advocacy campaigns. Keep up hope, and do not despair, because if we stand united, we cannot fail.