Based on recent negotiations for an FY2018-19 budget compromise and appropriations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that the Senate would devote time to debate immigration reform/DACA because the last Continuing Resolution (Public Law No: 115-123) did not include such provisions.
The debate culminated in votes on Thursday afternoon regarding three different immigration bills that would have provided a way for Dreamers to stay in the country, but also included varying levels of border security investments, as well as changes to the country's legal immigration policies. The three bills, including a bipartisan proposal created by the "Common Sense Caucus" and a plan favored by the White House, failed to gather the 60 votes required to move through the Senate. The Senate also failed to pass an amendment proposed by Sen. Toomey (R-PA) to punish so called "sanctuary cities." The Senate roll call votes for each measure offered this week are posted here: www.senate.gov/legislative/votes.htm. (The bill H.R. 2579 is an unrelated measure that the Senate was using as the legislative vehicle for the debate.)
The Senate will not reconvene until February 26 and it is unclear if the body will resume debating the issue after the recess, or even in March, given that no proposal has emerged to gather sufficient votes from the right and left.
In a letter to the Senate, NSBA wrote that "If there is no immediate legislative solution for overall immigration reform, we urge you to extend the DACA program through a separate measure that will provide the immediate support for continuity and reassurance that students will not be separated from their families and communities; and, that their education will not be jeopardized."
In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has not committed to vote on legislation for immigration reform, as there is uncertainty about the votes needed for passage (similar to the developments in the Senate). There are several immigration bills in the House, including bipartisan measures to extend DACA and legislate provisions regarding border security. However, the 218 votes needed for passage are not yet confirmed.
NSBA will continue to advocate for a solution to DACA as Congress resumes this debate. The House and Senate are scheduled to return from a state/district work period on February 26.
Vidal v. Nielsen - Preliminary Injunction Order: NSBA is pleased to report that a federal district court judge in New York has issued a nationwide preliminary injunction in Vidal v. Nielsen (New York v. Trump), a case in which NSBA and other national educational organizations filed an amicus brief supporting plaintiffs challenging the DACA rescission. The judge ordered the Administration to resume processing renewal requests under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program until the full case is resolved. The ruling acknowledges the irreparable harm to be suffered by employees who will lose their employability and health insurance coverage, putting strains on state healthcare systems, and that the DACA rescission would have "profound and irreversible economic and social implications."
DACA was established in 2012 by then U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. In September 2017, the current Administration rescinded the DACA program, leading to advocacy groups and states challenging that rescission in federal court. Consistent with NSBA's policy statements affirming the importance of equitable access to educational opportunities regardless of immigration status, the NSBA amicus brief focused on the ways DACA has motivated young people to stay in school, further their education and choose productive careers, including in public schools. The brief notes the detrimental effects that rescinding of the DACA program has on K-12 schools by creating fear and insecurity for many public school students and for those DACA grantees who have chosen to give back by working as public school teachers and support staff.
The New York ruling is the second to be issued by a federal judge this year. A federal judge in California made a similar ruling in January, leading the federal government to begin processing DACA renewal requests at that time. NSBA's amicus brief in this case is available at www.nsba.org/vidal-v-nielsen-ed-ny.
Supreme Court: Today, reports indicate that the Supreme Court will hold a closed-door meeting to decide whether to take up the lower court opinion that blocked the plan announced in September to end DACA. The question before the Supreme Court is to consider the possibility of reviewing the opinion without a ruling from a federal appeals court, following a direct request from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Supplemental Information: NSBA's legal advocacy team has developed a related guide for school districts that is posted online. Titled Lifting the Lamp Beside the Schoolhouse Door: A Legal Guide to Serving Undocumented Students in Public Schools, this guide was updated last October and includes best practices.
The American Immigration Council has provided the following materials for your review, as a supplement to the general session on DACA that was held during the Advocacy Institute.
• Fact Sheet on the Dream Actand DACA: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/...
• Special Report: DACA at Year Three: Challenges and Opportunities in Accessing Higher Education and Employement: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/...
• State Fact Sheets on Immigrants and DAC recepients: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/topics/...
• Fact Sheet: Public Education for Immigrant Students: Understanding Plyler v. Doe: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/...
• Fact Sheet: U.S. citizen children Impacted by Immigratio Enforcement: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/...
Article courtesy of NSBA Federal Update - Week of February 12, 2018