How the immigration debate in U.S. Congress could play out

Reuters

Posted at Sep 08 2017 05:10 AM

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he was ending an Obama-era program known as DACA, which shields qualified undocumented immigrants from deportation if they arrived in the United States as children. Those children are known as Dreamers.

The decision came with a six-month grace period and a challenge to Congress to use that period to enshrine Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections for Dreamers into law, instead of the current presidential executive order.

Passing any immigration legislation is difficult in Congress, which has failed on several occasions to protect Dreamers. Some conservative groups have lobbied against rewarding anybody who enters the United States illegally.

Here is a range of possible outcomes in this looming fight in Congress:

* Congress again fails to pass legislation protecting the Dreamers, putting the onus back on Trump to figure out whether to leave this group of young immigrants unprotected. Many have grown up in the United States and are in school, serve in the U.S. military or hold work permits.

* Congress fails to pass a permanent Dreamers bill but approves a temporary extension of current protections, possibly of a three-year duration.

* Congress approves a "Dream Act" bill and leaves other hot-button immigration issues for later.

* Congress, more likely, protects the Dreamers and attaches provisions to further beef up border security. Trump wants a wall stretching along the entire U.S. border with Mexico, but there is little support for that in Congress. Instead, there could be more money for border patrols, surveillance drones, fencing and possibly bits of a wall where it is effective.

* Congress, emboldened by Trump's opening, shoots for much broader immigration reforms. These could include anything from improving visas for foreign agriculture and high-tech workers to embracing the immigration community's "golden ring" - a pathway to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented residents.