The Chatter

Dreamers’ Future Still Uncertain As Lawmakers Struggle to Compromise

With no permanent solution for DACA, local immigrants are feeling disheartened.

By Michelle Harris | January 31, 2018, 12:00 am

The Chatter

Dreamers’ Future Still Uncertain As Lawmakers Struggle to Compromise

With no permanent solution for DACA, local immigrants are feeling disheartened.

By Michelle Harris | January 31, 2018, 12:00 am

After months of negotiations, lawmakers are no closer to a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In a game of tug of war, the White House and some Republicans are insistent on adding new immigration restrictions as a contingency in order to continue the Obama-era program that allows hundreds of thousands of children brought to the U.S. illegally to live and work without punishment.

Last week, President Trump’s administration proposed a deal that included a path to citizenship for more than one million undocumented immigrants, but also included a push for enhanced enforcement powers. If Congress can’t reach a deal by the March 5 expiration date, 800,000 people nationwide—including 8,000 in Maryland—will lose their status, making them an easy target for deportation.

“It’s a tradeoff in a sense,” said University of Maryland professor Christina Getrich. “On the one hand, it’s helping people like Dreamers while at the same time hurting their parents and family members that weren’t eligible.”

In order to qualify for DACA, applicants are required to be fingerprinted, have passports, and update their address with each move, making it easier for Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) to locate them. 

“Most of the Dreamers’ parents are undocumented or some of them have temporary protective status, which is also ending,” Getrich said. “So it’s not only scary for the DACA individual that the government has all this information on, it can really endanger the whole family.” 

Just last week, it was announced that ICE has now gained access to a nationwide license plate tracking database. This will provide access to billions of license plate records and provide real time location tracking to assist with ongoing investigations. The agency also made the decision to expand deportations beyond criminal offenders, further igniting rumors of politically motivated enforcement. 

At a rally in Highlandtown last February following an onslaught of ICE raids nationwide, DACA recipient and Ecuadoran immigrant Lourdes Ortega spoke with Baltimore about the fear in her community.

“Families have been scared to leave their homes,” she said. “They don’t want to go outside and they’re afraid to send their children to school.”

The heavily Latino population of Southeast Baltimore is especially nervous about the DACA program being in jeopardy and the latest announcements from ICE.

“It’s also an attack on our economy,” said Catalina Rodriguez-Lima, director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs. “A lot of these people have bought homes, go to schools, are business owners, and create jobs.” 

At President Trump's first State of the Union address last night, he spoke about immigration and family-based migration saying that programs like DACA and the diversity visa are the reasons for increased terror attacks in the U.S. The president used those statements as leverage to garner support for his proposed plan to allow 1.8 million undocumented immigrants to gain legal status in exchange for increased border security. In fact, he never mentioned the future of DACA or the Dreamers in his speech aside from proclaiming, "Americans are dreamers, too."

“Tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties—Democrats and Republicans—to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed,” Trump said. “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans—to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream, because Americans are dreamers, too.”

Local Democratic lawmakers were not pleased by Trump’s rhetoric regarding the future of immigration policy and took to Twitter to express their disdain. Senator Chris Van Hollen commented that the only part he enjoyed about the address was, “My fellow Americans.” When it came to increased border security, he had more to say about that.

“The administration’s unrelenting efforts to tear immigrant families apart and waste taxpayers’ money on an ineffective wall has put thousands of families in crisis,” he tweeted. “And in both word and deed, Trump has diminished our stature around the world and undermined our national security.”

Senator Ben Cardin was also not shy about criticizing the president’s remarks.

“Our union endures,” he said on Twitter. “But America’s standing is diminished in the eyes of the world because of [President Trump]’s brazen attempts to shut our doors and marginalize the compassion and opportunity that America has symbolized for generations.”

Maryland’s only Republican congressional delegate Andy Harris has not yet commented on the State of the Union address, however, last week he spoke about his thoughts on DACA and the government shutdown.

“Senate Dems want to shut down the federal government and deny health insurance to children across America over an arbitrary DACA deadline,” he tweeted.

With both sides opposing the administration’s plan, it seems the only option being thrown around is a deal that requires a trade of sorts—aggressive immigration measures, like a $25 million wall, in exchange for DACA—making citizens feel like pieces in a larger political game.   

“To be a political pawn in the way that they’ve become is just really disheartening,” Getrich said. “I think for a while it was empowering being a DACA recipient, it felt like people actually cared—it sort of validated who they were. But I think that people started feeling like no one actually care and it’s just for political reasons.”




Meet The Author

Michelle Harris is the digital content producer for Baltimore, where she covers news, community, sports, and beauty.



You May Also Like


The Chatter

Baltimore Police Chief Spokesman T.J. Smith Resigns

After being the face of the BPD for three years, Smith calls it quits.

The Chatter

Governor Larry Hogan Tops Ben Jealous by 22 Points in New Poll

More than half of likely voters say they support the incumbent Republican governor.

In Good Taste

Federal Hill Bar Hosting Benefit for Family of Shooting Victim

One Star Country Club is donating total proceeds to the family of Timothy Moriconi.


The Chatter

City Hall Among 130 U.S. Landmarks to Light Up For Cancer Research

On September 7, City Hall’s dome will illuminate to support Stand Up To Cancer.

The Chatter

Baltimore-Based Volo City Named on Inc. Magazine’s 5000 List

The social sports company was dubbed one of the country’s fastest growing private companies.

The Chatter

Baltimore Police Mounted Unit to Add Horses and State-of-the-Art Stable

City officials broke ground on $2.5 million stable at B&O Railroad Museum.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Actor Željko Ivanek Hosts 35th Anniversary NAMI Event: The Emmy Award-winner makes his first extended stay in Baltimore since leaving Homicide: Life on the Street.

Get an Inside Look at City Architecture with Doors Open Baltimore: The fifth annual event shows off 60 unique buildings and neighborhoods.

Baltimore Musician Hunter Hooligan Debuts Song at New York Fashion Week: "Pink" served as the soundtrack to designer Stevie Boi's rose-tinted vision.

Ben Jealous Fared Well in Debate, But Will It Make a Difference?: Democratic challenger scores some points, but Gov. Larry Hogan holds a big leads in polls.

Baltimore Japan Art Festival Returns to Station North With Illustrator Yusuke Nakamura: The two-day fest will also feature a film series and a family-friendly lineup of outdoor events.