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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

Trump may leave DACA untouched, but it could be doomed anyway

Detainee at theImmigration and Customs Enforcement's Tacoma Detention Center in July, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
Detainee at theImmigration and Customs Enforcement's Tacoma Detention Center in July, 2017.

Kim Malcolm talks with Franco Ordonez, White House correspondent for McClatchy, about the uncertain future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA shields some immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children from deportation.

On why DACA supporters are concerned right now:

Because of a recent threat of a lawsuit out of Texas. The attorney general there is leading a group of states that feel President Obama overextended his authority when he granted DACA to these young immigrants.

They've told the Trump administration if you don't announce you'll end this program by September 5, we're going to sue you. And there's a good chance they'll win.

Why these states believe they could win a lawsuit:

This case would likely go in front of a conservative judge who has already heard a similar case. He ruled against a program (DAPA) that was essentially for the parents of these children. It was an expansion of the DACA program.

That case was upheld in the appeals court, and then essentially was upheld by the Supreme Court in a split vote.

On what options Congressional Democrats have for saving DACA:

They really don't have many. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he's not going to rescind DACA. Kelly is pushing them to pass legislation, which is what they're trying to do. But they've had a really hard time bringing on Republicans, who are going to want something in return.

Democrats have told me they're not willing to do any horse trading. They're not going to give up one immigration group to save another. And they're not going to negotiate on a border wall.

On what immigrant advocates believe is likely to happen:

They're very hopeful they'll be able to use their political bully pulpit to bring this out. And they're warning Republicans if they take action against this very sympathetic group that it's "political suicide" for them.

And they're very worried that all these people who had been out of the shadow and contributing to the economy may soon go back in to the shadows.

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Year started with KUOW: 2013