Hispanic milker.
November 28, 2017

2018 Immigration Reform Hinges on Early Passage of DACA

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The only hope for immigration reform next year will be early passage of legislation to continue DACA, the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, more commonly known as the DREAM Act.

“The only thing I believe that has a very good chance of passing will be DACA, but it will have to pass early in the year, or at least by March,” says Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of Strategic Initiatives and Trade Policy for the National Milk Producers Federation. Castaneda spoke today at the 40th annual meeting of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association here in Red Wing, Minn.

DACA deals with undocumented children of immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. While the Obama Administration had agreed not to require them to return to their home countries if they came forward and registered, the Trump Administration has announced it would end that program unless Congress acted.

Castaneda says Congressional action is likely early next year, but it must happen before the primary season begins for next year’s Congressional elections. If Congress fails to act before April, when those primaries begin, all bets are off because incumbent Congress members, particularly Republicans, will not want to touch anything as controversial as immigration reform.

But if Congress does act on DACA this winter, there may be a window of opportunity for other immigration reform after the primaries next summer. Agricultural immigration is first in line for reform, says Castaneda.

Castaneda also says the best hope for addressing Canada’s Class 7 milk protein export program is in the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations. “Everything we’ve asked for, including dealing with the Class 7 program, the [Trump] Administration has agreed with,” he says.

But it’s impossible to know where the NAFTA negotiations will end up, he says.