The federal government is open again. But 800,000 DREAMers remain vulnerable to deportation in just a few weeks, despite many promises from Democrats to secure a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who have been in the US since they were children.
The Senate voted Monday on a continuing resolution to re-open the federal government and fund the Child Health Insurance Program for six years. The resolution will run out on February 8th, giving the chamber three weeks to decide how to move forward on immigration and border security. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly promised to advance these issues in a debate on the Senate floor if a decision is not reached by then.
However, this Congress has proven deeply divided on the issue of immigration and border security. Republicans have sent conflicting signals about where they stand, and Trump has also muddied the waters by switching his position on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) was furious with the Democrats for caving to pressure. The vote to move forward without protections for DREAMers showed him that “Democrats are still not willing to go to the mat to allow people in my community to live in our country legally.”
Democrats who opposed the continuing resolution included several potential 2020 presidential contenders such as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders. Warren voiced criticism that the Democrats have capitulated to a promise from Mitch McConnell concerning immigration. “We don’t need new promises. We need new laws,” she tweeted.
It’s been over 100 days since protection for 800k Dreamers ended, since community health centers were funded, since hurricanes ravaged TX, FL & PR. The Republicans refused to fix any of these issues– and they still haven't fixed them. We don't need new promises. We need new laws.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) January 22, 2018
Activist leaders were similarly outraged. Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released a statement expressing her dismay at the decision.
“American needed leadership today. We did not get it from either party… There is no moral excuse for further delay.”
The DACA debate has been raging between Democrats and Republicans since the policy was first established by Obama in 2012. After nearly six years of disagreement on how to treat DREAMers, it will take a miracle for members of both parties to reach a consensus in the next three weeks.