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Report: Trump's DACA Proposal Would Protect 1.8 Million 'Dreamers'

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A forthcoming proposal from President Donald Trump would create a path to citizenship for 1.8 million "Dreamers" who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, as well as provide billions in new funding for border security and other changes to the nation's immigration system, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

The deal, outlined by White House officials with members of Congress, could shield from deportation those currently covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as well as others who don't have official DACA protection but could qualify. About 250,000 school-age children have become eligible for DACA since President Barack Obama instituted the program in 2012, and about 9,000 educators are covered by DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Overall, about 800,000 people benefit from DACA protections.

The AP said it was not immediately clear how the Trump proposal would shift the qualifications for DACA to include up to 1.8 million people—not all of those eligible for DACA have applied and received protections. Parents of Dreamers would not be allowed to be deemed lawful immigrants in Trump's proposal, and there would be other new restrictions on immigration, the AP reported.

In exchange for enshrining DACA protections into law, Trump, who has spoken in favor of building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, also wants $25 billion in new funding for border security.

DACA has been a fraught issue in U.S. schools, with many educators and students increasingly uncertain if they will be allowed to stay in the country. They've followed the back-and-forth debate in Washington over DACA with great interest and anxiety. 

Last week, Senate Democrats forced a partial government shutdown by refusing to vote in sufficient numbers for a continuing resolution funding the federal government. Their stated intent was to force Congress to pass new protections for Dreamers. The government reopened on Monday after three days, and the continuing resolution approved by Congress lasts until Feb. 8, but Democratic leaders in the Senate have said that without a deal to protect DACA recipients, they're prepared to force another partial shutdown.

Earlier this week when talking with reporters, Trump indicated a willingness to allow some illegal immigrants brought to the country when they were young to eventually become citizens. However, the president has also previously stated that he was not in favor of a path to citizenship for Dreamers. 

Simultaneously, however, the Trump administration is seeking to overturn a federal judge's recent ruling that blocked its move to overturn DACA. Trump has also backed restrictions to how family members of immigrants are dealt with by the nation's immigration system, as well as the U.S. visa lottery program. 

Trump announced last year that he planned to cancel DACA in early March, but has expressed a willingness to sign congressional legislation that enshrines DACA protections. At least one version of the Dream Act previously introduced by lawmakers would allow Dreamers to gain protections in part by obtaining a high school degree, among other avenues. 

Photo: Maricruz Abarca, of Baltimore, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient who is originally from Mexico, cries during a demonstration with other supporters of the DACA program outside of the U.S. Capitol last month. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

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