WASHINGTON ― There are a few massive disconnects as Congress and the White House spar over a plan to reopen the government, but one of the biggest is whether relief for young undocumented immigrants, which Democrats are demanding in a deal, is an urgent problem.
The Trump administration and Republican leaders in Congress argue that it’s not, and that protecting so-called Dreamers doesn’t need to happen until a March “deadline.” Democrats, some Republicans and Dreamers themselves say otherwise.
The reality is complicated, thanks to a court ruling, a multistep process for ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deportation relief process, and politicians’ apparent lack of understanding ― either genuine or feigned ― about what’s actually happening. But the idea that nothing will happen until March, or that losing DACA isn’t a big deal, is straight-up false.
This confusion was illustrated on Saturday, when Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) took to the floor to criticize Democrats for causing a government shutdown. He acknowledged that he might be wrong about how the end of DACA worked ― a surprising statement, given that he’s one of the top Republican negotiators on a deal to fix it.
Cornyn said he wasn’t trying to downplay the urgency of the situation and believes something needs to be done. But he said that his understanding was that as of March 5, “current DACA recipients can no longer register again for an additional two years and qualify for an additional work permit.”
“I think ― but I could be mistaken ― that it doesn’t mean that they are subject to deportation,” Cornyn said. “What it means is that they can’t sign up again for another two years, and they will lose ― potentially lose their work permit.”
He was mistaken.
As previously mentioned, the current state of the DACA program is complicated, but here are the basic facts.
The Department of Homeland Security rescinded DACA on Sept. 5 at Trump’s…