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DACA sits in limbo as symbolic deadline passes

Last fall, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the DACA program would end by March 5 unless Congress acted. But that day has come and Congress has not acted, despite efforts to strike a deal that was ultimately rejected by President Trump. Lisa Desjardins reports on what’s at stake for the “Dreamers.”

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  • William Brangham:

    We turn now to politics back here in the U.S.

    In the fall, President Trump and announced the so-called DACA program, which gives protection to immigrants brought to this country illegally as children, would end, effective today.

    But that deadline has been delayed, for now.

    Lisa Desjardins lays out where things stand.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    For dozens of protesters marching toward the U.S. Capitol in support of so-called dreamers, this wasn't a silent deadline, but it was only a symbolic one, as their issue sits in limbo. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last fall the DACA program would end by March 5 unless Congress acted.

  • Jeff Sessions:

    We firmly believe this is the responsible path.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But Congress has not acted, despite flurries of meetings, including one where President Donald Trump seemed to embrace compromise.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Let's see if we can get something done.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Two days later, he rejected the leading bipartisan deal. Democrats tried a three-day government shutdown over the issue. The result? No action.

    Instead, the action has been in the courts. In January and February two different federal judges temporarily blocked the Trump administration's plans, leaving DACA in operation for now, while lawsuits are pending.

    Those now sit with an appeals court, which the Supreme Court is waiting for, and encouraged to act expeditiously. Some in Congress were looking to the next funding deadline, March 23, as the next potential DACA showdown. But, today, the Senate's number two Democrat, Dick Durbin, indicated this time his party won't tie immigration to the spending bill.

  • Sen. Dick Durbin:

    I don't think that will include these other topics. I think it's going to be focused exclusively on spending.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In the meantime, some 21,000 previous DACA recipients failed to reapply on time, and now have no status. In all, nearly 800,000 people have been in the DACA program. For now, most of them safe from deportation, but not one of them knows how long that will last.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Lisa Desjardins.

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