With immigration reform dead, Deferred Action looms larger

Published August 15, 2014 EFE

With more than 500,000 young people enrolled, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has not only been in force for two years this Friday but its importance looms ever larger in debates about immigration policy, in which some seek its repeal and others want to expand it.

The Republican majority in the House of Representatives approved a bill before leaving on their summer recess that aims to end DACA once and for all, a reaction to the child immigration crisis on the southern border.

The most conservative wing of the Republican part sees the repeal of DACA as indispensable, considering the measure an "amnesty" for those who enter the country illegally - a sharp shift from their position on immigration reform earlier in the year when they seemed far more open to dialogue.

President Barack Obama launched the DACA program to provide relief for young undocumented migrants who were brought to the United States as children - the intended beneficiaries of the DREAM Act, which remains stalled in Congress.

"Our DREAMers are Americans in every aspect of their lives, except on paper. We should do more to improve their lives, not put them at risk as (House Speaker John) Boehner and the more extreme and anti-immigrant elements of the Republican Party continue to do," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Efe Friday on DACA's anniversary.

Boehner has refused to call a vote in the House on the bipartisan immigration reform measure approved by the Senate in June 2013.

While Republicans do everything they can to repeal DACA, immigrant activists demand of Obama, faced with the GOP's refusal to approve any immigration reform, that he take action and at least expand the program to include DREAMers' parents.

"When the president chose to use his executive authority two years ago, it was in the face of obstinacy from lawmakers in Congress who refused to pass the DREAM Act," Janet Murguia, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, said in a statement.

"As the recent shameful set of votes in the House of Representatives indicates, we are again at a similar impasse on Capitol Hill, with these same lawmakers now digging in their heels as opposed to working toward a solution to fix our broken immigration system," she said.

"Now more than ever, we need President Obama to exercise a legitimate use of his executive authority to expand relief and limit senseless deportations in order to keep hardworking aspiring Americans together with their families," Murguia said.