With Republicans preparing to take control of the House, top Senate Democrats are saying the post-election session is the best, and perhaps only, chance for Congress to act in the near term on deportation protections in the DACA program for the immigrants in known as “Dreamers.” It's been almost ten years since the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in 2013, but the Republican-controlled House never took it up, reports Politico. There’s been talk of efforts in the upper chamber, led by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), to move the House-passed immigration bill focused on easing visas for agricultural workers before 2023. It’s “a long shot, but we’re still going to try,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL). Another option for Democrats: Putting an immigration bill on the floor and forcing Republicans to take a vote. Democrats and immigration advocates argue there’s more urgency after an appeals court ruling in October left uncertain the fate of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The court deemed DACA illegal, but indicated that current recipients of deportation protections wouldn’t be affected amid the litigation.
Democrats say that behind the scenes Republicans are showing interest, even if they don’t admit it publicly. “I’ve talked to my Republican colleagues about this a lot. A lot of them, like me, feel that Dreamers should at least have a pathway to citizenship,” said Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ). Democrats attempted to pursue immigration reform that includes a pathway to achieve legal status. Even if there is no vote on an immigration bill, it's possible a smaller proposal could get tucked in for an end-of-the-year spending package. However, the Dec. 16 deadline is fast approaching and would need the approval of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and 10 Senate Republicans.