New York Times, Jan 14, 2018
WASHINGTON — After three days of denunciations from around the world, President Trump declared that he is “not a racist” on Sunday, even as the uproar over his vulgar remarks on immigration overshadowed critical issues facing the capital, including efforts to protect young undocumented immigrants and avert a government shutdown.
…And lawmakers are already facing a difficult fight over the politically volatile subject of immigration, with the fates of hundreds of thousands of young immigrants hanging in the balance. Adding to the uncertain picture for those immigrants, the Trump administration resumed accepting renewals for the program over the weekend, under orders from a federal judge who is hearing a legal challenge to Mr. Trump’s dismantling of the program.
…The Obama-era program shields from deportation young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children, known as Dreamers. Saying that President Barack Obama had exceeded his authority when he created the program, Mr. Trump moved to end it in September.
He gave Congress six months to find a fix for the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
Democrats have been pushing to secure a deal by Friday’s government funding deadline that would protect Dreamers, hoping to capitalize on the leverage they have as a result of that deadline. Democratic votes will be needed to pass the stopgap spending measure in the Senate, where government funding measures require 60 votes, and Democratic votes might also be needed in the House.
Republican leaders say they want to address DACA as well, but separately from funding the government. Compared with their Democratic counterparts, Republican leaders are operating on a longer time frame for taking action, given the six-month window that Mr. Trump gave Congress. They also have to contend with internal divisions over immigration policy.
But in Congress, the battle took on an increasingly personal dimension as Mr. Perdue and Mr. Cotton essentially accused Mr. Durbin of lying about the president’s comments, even after the vulgar remarks were widely reported and the White House did not immediately dispute that the president had made them.
…The bipartisan group of senators, including Mr. Durbin and Mr. Graham, reached an agreement last week that would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients while also providing money for border security and making other changes to immigration policy.
Lawyers and directors of community legal services spent Sunday preparing fact sheets and answering calls that have been flooding their offices.
Most of the calls that Hasan Shafiqullah, the director of the immigration unit of the Legal Aid Society of New York, said he has been receiving started with the burning questions “Is this real? Can I file?”
The answer, for now, he said, is yes. But he is concerned for his clients about another turnabout in the courts.
“It’s just the emotional roller coaster that our clients are on,” he said.
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