On Tuesday, the Trump administration announced its decision to curtail the Obama-era policy of deferring deportation for unlawful immigrants who entered the country as minors. The program, known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or DACA, will be phased out after six months, a grace period in which the executive branch has given its legislative cousin time to enact a replacement policy — if it so chooses.
President Donald Trump has, astonishingly, ceded a small bit of executive power back to Congress. It’s time for the legislature to step up by codifying immigration reform through the sturdy process of congressional passage. A product by this means would be more durable than any executive order, carrying with it the potential of expanding upon DACA’s humane provisions.
But would a Republican-led Congress really support such a reform?
According to a report from data-journalism website FiveThirtyEight, the answer could be “yes.” A surprising number of moderate and conservative Republicans — such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida — have supported forms of immigration overhaul in the past. FiveThirtyEight‘s analysis submits there could be enough support to surpass a majority in the House and the 60-vote filibuster threshold in the Senate.
Of course, any success would also depend on the predilections of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who may be loath to submit their respective caucuses to a possibly contentious vote on immigration reform. The two have already suffered disruption in their attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act earlier this year. They will likely focus on federal relief funding for victims of Hurricane Harvey in the short term, as they should, with a long-term agenda of tax reform and debt-ceiling negotiation for the session’s remainder.
In legislative terms, six months isn’t much. And even if a DACA-esque bill is approved by both chambers, Trump could still choose to exercise his veto power, essentially killing the measure.
However, even in this political climate, immigration reform is surely possible. Stranger things have happened.