Dreamer-related legislation was to be a major focus of the discussion at a White House meeting on November 28, between President Trump and Congressional leaders. But Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, wisely withdrew from the meeting, given that his childish antics indicate he’s not serious about getting to a deal that will keep the federal government open. They will continue to meet with Republican leadership, who at least know what is at stake and know that voters expect them to fulfill their responsibilities and keep the lights on.
The crisis facing Dreamers is already underway and only Congress can fix it. An estimated 10,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status, and tens of thousands more will lose their work permits, jobs and protections in the coming weeks.
As Congress faces the challenge of passing two must-pass spending bills in the coming weeks a – short-term Continuing Resolution and an Omnibus spending bill for defense and domestic priorities for the next year – let’s be clear: it’s now or never.
Since September, our ask has been simple and straightforward: attach a clean Dream Act to must-pass legislation as soon as possible. Why have we insisted on attaching it to must-pass bills? Because it’s the only way to get it done! The GOP-led Congress is too divided and too incompetent to pass a standalone DACA fix. This Congress isn’t able to pass legislative proposals that its members ran on and claim that they want to pass. It would be foolish for any of us to expect the Republican leadership to find a way to approve a standalone bill on an issue that divides the party.
When Republicans say “let’s do it next year,” what they are really saying is, “we’ll pretend we want to do it, and then blame Democrats when we can’t.” We know the game. And we’re not playing. Lives and futures at stake. Who we are as a nation is at stake.
As is often the case, some Republicans – starting with the unpopular President – will try to set up the blame game, counsel delay, and advance the false notion that there is a March deadline for DACA recipients. Such delaying tactics are nothing but an excuse for inaction. When Republicans say “let’s do it next year,” what they are really saying is, “we’ll pretend we want to do it, and then blame Democrats when we can’t.” We know the game. And we’re not playing. Lives and futures at stake. Who we are as a nation is at stake.
Through all the posturing and threats and jawboning expected in the coming days as Congressional leaders work their way to an inevitable spending deal, one thing should be crystal clear: a vote for a deal without Dreamer relief is a vote to deport Dreamers. Spending bills fund immigration enforcement; under Trump’s deportation force, it’s open season on anyone without papers; without Congress resolving this crisis in December, tens of thousands of young Americans have and will continue to lose their papers and be exposed to deportation.
The moment of truth is upon us. In the coming days and weeks, we as a nation are going to have to answer a fundamental question: are we going to say to young people who arrived at the average age of 6 and are now the average age of 26, who are part of American life and are Americans in all but paperwork, that we want to eject them? Or are we going to say that it’s finally time for us to formally recognize Dreamers as the Americans they already are?
History has its eyes on us.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.
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