DACA fate hangs in the balance for another week

Stephon Johnson | 12/14/2017, 1:15 p.m.
With the government shutdown set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. this Saturday, Congress passed a short-term spending deal last ...
Demonstrators protest outside of Trump Tower over DACA

With the government shutdown set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. this Saturday, Congress passed a short-term spending deal last Thursday.

Kicking the can down the road, the government has until Dec. 22 to pass a spending bill to keep the government running, but it doesn’t address issues such as military spending and immigration. Both conservatives and liberals want their pet issues addressed in the bill. For Democrats, it’s justice for the dreamers.

Democrats’ push for inclusion of Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals ticked off President Donald Trump. Before a recent cabinet meeting, Trump said that liberal politicians shouldn’t mess with the government on the dreamers’ behalf.

“The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous for our country,” Trump said to reporters. “They are looking at shutting down. They want to have illegal immigrants, in many cases people that we don’t want in our country—they want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of drugs. We don’t want to have that.”

DACA protects immigrants who were brought into this country as minors. Approximately 800,000 young immigrants risk being deported if no deal is made on DACA.

The fight over DACA has major implications for a city such as New York that’s populated with many immigrants. New York State legislators, such as Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, urged Washington Democrats to not sell out dreamers and to fight for their inclusion in the spending bill.

“At a time when New Yorkers throughout our state are celebrating the joys of the holiday season, there are families in our

community who do not even know whether they will be forcibly divided from their loved ones,” said Joyner in a statement. “For too many New Yorkers, the ‘American Dream’ is in danger of becoming their own personal nightmare, and I would urge the Democrats in Congress to stand united in support of families who have been contributing so much to the Bronx and our entire state.” 

“I urge Congress to reject any spending bill that does not contain a clean DREAM Act,” added New York State Senator Marisol Alcantara in a statement. “As an immigrant, I feel deeply for the plight of DREAMers as well as for their parents, who are often forgotten in this debate. The criminalization of immigration and of refugees is a shameful policy, and I hope that America can continue to be a place of refuge for people around the world yearning to breathe free.”

If the government shuts down, it would be the first time in 40 years that will have happened with one party controlling both houses of Congress.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to delay a lower court ruling that required the Trump administration to turn over documents related to ending the DACA program in September. With 2018 just several weeks away, immigrant advocates told the press during a call that they hope to ring in the new year with good news for 800,000 people.

“Our message to Congress is simple: pass a clean Dream Act, you have two weeks,” said United We Dream Executive Director and Co-Founder Christina Jimenez. “When politicians, like Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell, say there is no urgency to act on Dream Act, they are lying. Delay means deportation. The DACA-status of a United We Dream leader and teacher

expired over the weekend. Now, he cannot legally teach his students, and he is vulnerable to deportation. It is up to Congress to decide: Do you want to deport this teacher and community leader?”

“When Republicans say, ‘Address the Dreamer issue later and on its own,’ we hear them loud and clear. It really means ‘We won’t do it, but we’ll go through the motions, and then blame Democrats,’” added America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry.