Democrats fire up push for DACA amnesty in lame duck session before GOP takes House

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., claimed that granting amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants would solve America's low birth rate crisis. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., claimed that granting amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants would solve America’s low birth rate crisis.  (Screenshot/Twitter)

A federal court upheld a block on additional DACA enrollments last month

Democrats and immigration activists are looking to get some form of amnesty for illegal immigrants through Congress in the lame duck session before they lose the House of Representatives to Republicans at the beginning of 2023.

Senators and activists held a press conference Wednesday calling for Republicans in the chamber to work with Democrats to pass a version of the DREAM Act, which would grant a path to citizenship for recipients (and those otherwise eligible) of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

That program, established by President Barack Obama in 2012, granted protection from deportation for millions of illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The program was recently dealt a blow when an appeals court upheld a 2021 ruling that prevented further enrollments, which was found to be illegal.

While it does not affect the approximately 700,000 already enrolled, the ruling fueled new pushes for a permanent “fix.” However, the DREAM Act would go beyond that 700,000 with advocates estimating it could give a pathway to citizenship for approximately two million.

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Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said that with Republicans set to take control of the House, time was running out to get legislation passed and demanded action after the Thanksgiving break.

“We know that it’s important in December, that we pass the DREAM Act — December of this year when we return from Thanksgiving — because if the House moves, as we think it might politically, it becomes increasingly difficult after the first of the year to take up this issue. We need to do it now and to do it we need bipartisan support in the Senate,” Durbin said.

Durbin said there are four or five Republicans who would support it, but Democrats need “10 Republicans who will step up and join us in this effort” to overcome a filibuster.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, however, said that while the short-term goal was the DREAM Act, the ultimate goal is much broader, but that would wait for the next Senate.

The press conference coincided with a push by advocacy groups on Capitol Hill. FWD.us, an advocacy group established by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, said in a release that “hundreds of advocates and DACA recipients from around the country flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with over 100 members of Congress” to urge passage of legislation.

That comes after a coalition of business leaders from firms like Apple, Amazon, Target, Meta, Starbucks and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged congressional leaders last month to “swiftly pass legislation” on the issue.

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