DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era legislation that was passed in 2012 which allows for children brought to the U.S. illegally to remain in the country provided that they meet a set of minimum requirements set in place by the government (Meckler, 2018). These young people are referred to throughout the media and government as #Dreamers.
This debate was re-ignited last year when the president repealed the protections for these individuals and set a deadline for their deportation of March 5, 2018 (Lind, 2017). So, those in Congress who are actively trying to save the Dreamers and keep our promise to these young people, don’t have a lot of time to do so.
Additionally, the government is currently operating on a limited spending budget that was passed in January which allowed the government to keep running for three weeks in order to give Congress time to collaborate and find a spending solution for the year (Golshan, 2018). At stake in these negotiations is the fate of the Dreamers, the fate of government workers, and the fate of the Trump administration’s ability to keep the doors open. No one, on either side of the aisle, wants another shutdown like 2013 which lasted 17 days and resulted in over 120,000 jobs lost (Amadeo, 2018).
So, this issue is extremely complex and, right now, leaves me with more questions than answers. But…
First, you should care about the government’s potential to shut down because it affects things like the issuing of permits, economic growth, government functions that oversee the safety of our nation’s nuclear arsenal, entitlement programs, school lunch funding, and a whole host of other government-provided services (Amadeo, 2018). This does not include the postal service, Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare, or the military which all have budgets separate from the yearly spending budget Congress is supposed to approve by September 30th every year.
Second, you should care that the fate of the Dreamers is wrapped up in this spending budget because elected officials are withholding their votes until the Dreamers are protected.
According to this article written by Meckler and Peterson, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) are working on a bill which offers a compromise on immigration. This bill “…would provide legal status and a path to citizenship for young immigrants who have lived in the U.S. since Dec. 31, 2013” as well tighten border security with more funding aimed at improving the “…coordination between border-patrol agents and state and local law-enforcement officials” (Meckler & Peterson, 2018, para. 10-11). In voting on this potential solution, the debate would effectively be settled and Congress could move on and work on a bipartisan effort to keep the government running for the remainder of 2018.
what could go wrong?
Well…the president has adamantly refused to pass any legislation protecting the Dreamers or dealing with immigration on a larger scale that does not include funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The bill being proposed by McCain and Coons does not provide this funding.
One thing we know is that the president can be swayed; however, his temperament and resolve is never steady. So, he could very well be for or against this legislation one day and change his mind the next.
If these two issues could be separated and voted on individually, I believe that Congress could move forward and accomplish something substantial, because they really are very simple issues when they aren’t wrapped around each other. Unfortunately, the fate of the Dreamers is being leveraged in this red vs. blue feud with the president planting his feet on the right and the Democrats holding firm on the left.
This is one of those issues that we, as a people, can’t afford to remain on the sidelines of. Sure, if you look at just the DACA issue, you can take a side. But when it’s being leveraged against a spending bill to keep the government running, the line separating the sides becomes blurred.
This is an ongoing issue that we will need to watch this week and hope that our elected officials make the right choices.
Amadeo, K. (2018, January 23). Government Shutdown Postponed to February 8. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from https://www.thebalance.com/government-shutdown-3305683
Golshan, T. (2018, January 22). Congress has voted to end the government shutdown. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/22/16910600/congress-ends-2018-government-shutdown
Lind, D. (2017, December 20). Republicans are misleading everyone – including themselves – about how long they have to fix DACA. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/2017/12/20/16795300/daca-deadline-extend-trump
Meckler, L., Peterson, K. (2018, February 04). ‘Dreamer’ Talks Aim to End Budget Impasse. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-immigration-bill-would-omit-trumps-more-contentious-proposals-1517785320?mod=e2twp