by Chris White
WASHINGTON – Many of the so-called Dreamers worried about their immigration status are starting to reconsider their opposition to a possible wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a report Friday from the San Francisco Chronicle.
President Donald Trump’s wall at the border wouldn’t be so bad, some groups are now saying, so long as it means citizenship for the nearly 700,000 people brought into the country through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“If building a wall leads us to having citizenship, then I’m all for it,” Ana Rodriguez, who works at a daycare center in California, told reporters at the Chronicle. “The U.S. is what I know and that’s where I want to live my life — I want to be a part of it in full.”
Rodriguez and others like her are arguing about accepting a trade-off — giving Trump his wall in exchange for retaining DACA. The Trump administration proposed a bill earlier this month offering citizenship to 1.8 million illegal immigrants in exchange for $25 billion for a border wall.
Activist organization have also noted that DACA recipients are making recalculations about their opposition. Marissa Montes, co-director of the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic in Los Angeles, noticed in recent weeks that they are sounding more and more likely to back a wall in exchange for citizenship.
“It’s coming from a point of exhaustion — they’ve tried everything,” Montes told reporters. “Their instinct is survival and as human beings, how much longer can they endure this? They’re pingponging back and forth.”
Former President Barack Obama implemented the program in 2012 to allow people younger than 16 to live in the country illegally to receive renewable, two-year protections from deportation along with work permits. They also had to live in the country continuously from 2007 onward and have no criminal convictions.
Trump ended the Obama-era executive action in September telling Congress it had six months to codify the program into law before protections expired. The president eventually temporarily reinstated the action after being showered with criticisms – but the temporary halt will be lifted over the next several months.
Democrats have been seeking a bill that covers DACA recipients, and as many as 2 million similarly situated illegal immigrants who did not apply or did not qualify for the Obama amnesty.
Trump’s upcoming proposal appears to be an effort to split the difference between the Democratic demand and an immigration reform bill from House Republicans, which was limited to roughly 700,000 existing DACA beneficiaries.
Democrats used the DACA issue as a cudgel during the budget debate earlier this month to temporarily shut down the government. Republicans refused to bend to the Democrat’s demands at the time to negotiate DACA, while the minority party largely unified to use the shutdown deadline to exact protections from the GOP for hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants.
Republicans tried to sweeten the deal, offering Democrats a long-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, as well as the delay of some unpopular health care taxes. The GOP believed the public would blame Democrats if the sweetener was rejected.
Democrats appear concerned about the optics as well. A Super PAC allied with Senate Democrats commissioned a poll in 12 battleground states to determine which party would be blamed if a shutdown was tied to the legal status of dreamers. The poll found that Democrats absorb most of the blame in such a scenario.
The poll, which was conducted in December by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group on behalf of a Senate Majority PAC, also found that blame for a shutdown would be split between Trump and Republicans, and Democrats in Congress, The Washington Post reported earlier this month.
Recent polling shows Hispanics are evenly split on whether to combine a DACA deal to the building of a wall — 42 percent of Hispanics oppose it and 42 percent support it, according to the Quinnipiac poll conducted Jan. 18. In total, 73 percent of voters’ support allowing Dreamers to remain in the U.S. legally, according to the poll.