On Tuesday a federal court judge blocked Trump's move to abolish the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But it wasn't much of a victory for the Democrats, nor much of a loss
for the Republicans.
Although devilishly hard to quantify, it's believed that 11.3m undocumented migrants live in the United States. In 2014 a survey found that two-thirds had resided in America for more than a decade. The Obama administration extended protections to the children of these immigrants, going so far as to offer them a pathway to citizenship, and in the process enraged immigration hawks (particularly in southern border states).
And so as a populist on the campaign trail in 2016 Trump had thrilled his audiences by preaching to the choir about illegal immigration. Throughout his first year as US president there have been numerous examples of Trump pandering to his base: through legislation to halt immigration from Muslim-majority countries, a freeze on refugee intakes, the infamous border wall, and by targeting DACA.
Now the touted Trump plan to scrap DACA has collapsed. Many of the 800,000 so-called 'Dreamers' who fall under the provisions of DACA have been protesting for months
. But now there is light on the horizon.
A bipartisan committee of six senators is close to a resolution following four months of negotiations. The deal, announced on Thursday, raises the possibility of there remaining a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers, although the bill is rumoured to contain a 12-year delay for applicants
. For now details remain unclear but some news services have reported a $2.7b boost to border security, and a $1.6b contribution towards the border wall - as the quid pro quo.
Trump made a splash during the week by attending a meeting of the committee. In a bewildering display he promised to sign "whatever they put in front" of him, accepted the Democratic position, demanded funds for the wall, and insisted that Mexico would pay for it. In another outburst Trump described Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as "shithole" countries
, and then went on to wonder why America didn't receive more immigration from countries like Norway.
Republicans immigration hawks meanwhile are outraged at any bill that maintains DACA; many have publicly lamented Trump's 'betrayal'
. It goes without saying that the contemplated reform is a far cry from the belligerence of Trump's campaign rhetoric. However, there has been no word as yet on whether or how the bill will address Trump's two most recent pet peeves: chain migration (in which immigrants sponsor their family members) and the diversity lottery system.
The senators are working on a tight deadline, so watch this space. The United States government runs out of money on January 19th, and Democratic leaders are refusing to support a funding bill unless a DACA deal is imminent. All the while these negotiations continue against the backdrop of widespread Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on convenience stores in ethnically diverse areas