by Julián Aguilar, Texas Tribune
Following a five-week recess, Texas’ congressional Republicans have renewed their push to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — an initiative launched by President Obama in 2012 that gives certain young undocumented immigrants a work permit and two-year reprieve from deportation proceedings.
Leading the latest charge? Texas’ outspoken junior senator Ted Cruz, who calls the initiative “amnesty” and blames it for fueling the surge of undocumented Central American youths breaching Texas’ southern border.
What do Cruz and his colleagues want?
Cruz and some of his Texas colleagues — including U.S. Reps. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler — want senators to vote on a measure the U.S. House passed in August before its recess that would end the DACA initiative. They also want to roll back a provision in a 2008 human-trafficking bill that gives undocumented Central American minors more legal protections here than Mexicans or Canadians have.
They think the current border surge is a crisis of President Obama’s own creation. Citing Border Patrol figures, Cruz suggested in a Tuesday press conference that 95 percent of 200 children recently apprehended on the border came to this country because they thought they’d have permission to stay. “We cannot solve the crisis on the border until we end President Obama’s amnesty,” he said.
What’s Cruz likely to get?
Not much, at least right now.
Cruz’s office said what the senator wants is for the U.S. Senate to vote on the House-backed measure. That isn’t likely as Senate Democrats already thwarted Cruz’s request to have the legislation considered by the upper chamber on Wednesday.
“The House of Representatives is leading, but the United States Senate, under Democratic control, refuses to even allow a vote on solving the crisis at the border or stopping the President’s illegal amnesty,” he said in a statement.
Immigrant rights groups aren’t exactly getting their way right now either. President Obama has said he won’t take any further executive action on immigration reform until after the November election — widely seen as him capitulating to vulnerable Democrats whose reelections could hinge on immigration issues.
Where would Texas be if Cruz were successful?
More people in Texas would be affected by a roll-back of DACA than in any state other than California.
As of June 2014, more than 105,200 of the country’s 642,700 deferred action applicants were from Texas. Of those, 88,100 were approved, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
But there are many more Texans — an estimated 149,000 — who are eligible for DACA but not yet enrolled, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington-based non-partisan think tank. That means they meet all the requirements: They were brought to this country at age 15 or younger; they’re enrolled in school or have graduated or obtained a GED; and they are free of felony convictions or have had fewer than three convictions on misdemeanor offenses.
Another 70,000 undocumented immigrants in Texas could become eligible if they find a way to meet the education requirements. And yet another 96,000 young immigrants living in Texas will become eligible once they turn 15 years old.
Rolling back DACA could also have an outsized effect on the Texas economy. Of the 315,000 potential applicants here, about 204,000 are employed, despite not having proper work authorization.