Dreamers in New Jersey have been left in limbo as the battle over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program continues. While many young people who have DACA status hope to be granted a path to legal citizenship, several obstacles remain in their path with few signs that Congress will act.
Obstacles for Dreamers
In July, a federal judge in Texas struck down DACA, finding that it was unconstitutional. However, the court continued the protection for the approximately 640,000 current DACA recipients. New applications can no longer be processed. Over the past two decades, Congress has failed to pass any legislation to protect people who were brought to the U.S. as children, and many have grown up in the U.S. and consider it to be the only home that they have ever known.
While Democrats are currently in power in Congress, their margins are razor-thin. The senate includes 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the deciding vote. To pass filibuster-proof legislation, the Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to join them. Not enough Republicans are on board with passing legislation to change the U.S. immigration law and provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. The Democrats have turned to budget reconciliation to try to pass this legislation. Through this process, they would only need 51 votes, which would require every Democrat to vote for the legislation currently proposed for budget reconciliation.
Protection for Dreamers has been included in the current $3.5 trillion social infrastructure bill that was being debated in the House in early August. However, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who are both moderates, have stated that they are uncomfortable with the total price tag of the bill. The Senate Parliamentarian could also excise the portion of the bill that would protect Dreamers and provide them with a pathway to citizenship. All of these obstacles make it unclear whether Dreamers will finally get relief.