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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Democrats’ cave on DACA, government shutdown is a ‘slap in the face’

Today, Sen. Charles Schumer and the Senate Democrats voted to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government until February 8th. The vote did not include the Dream Act that immigrant youth like me and our allies have been demanding for months. For us, today’s vote was a slap in the face.

Late last year, my daughter and I had the opportunity to meet Sen. Schumer about the Dream Act. I explained to him that I’m a homeowner on Long Island with two U.S.-citizen children. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which I have, is the only thing protecting my family from being torn apart. Sen. Schumer looked at my daughter and smiled. He told her he would be giving her the best Christmas present ever: he would make sure the Dream Act passed Congress.

But Christmas passed. Then the New Year. And still, the Dream Act did not advance. Now it’s clear that we will not have a Dream Act this month, either. I’m deeply disappointed that Sen. Schumer has not held his Democratic caucus in the Senate together to stand firm and make sure that any budget extension includes the Dream Act that young people like me and our families so desperately need.

On Friday, I was inspired to see 45 Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Schumer, reject a Republican budget proposal that left Dreamers in the cold. With their votes, these Democratic Senators showed an appreciation for the urgency of this issue: more than 16,000 Dreamers have lost their DACA status since Trump’s reckless decision to end DACA, and 122 more lose this protection every day. Trump has created a moral crisis in this country, and it requires immediate resolution: not in three weeks, but today.

But today, Sen. Schumer and his caucus took a big step backwards. The promise of a Senate debate in early February is not good enough. We need a Dream Act now, and we need Senate Democrats to use all the leverage they have in the budget-which requires Democratic votes to pass-to make it happen.

Throughout the negotiations of the past months, it’s become very clear that Donald Trump and his allies in Congress are negotiating in bad faith. Trump has continued to try to advance a racist border wall, while continually trying to insert additional anti-immigrant policies. His immigration policy is driven by Steven Miller and other extremists in his administration. He has shown time and again that he has no interest in negotiating in good faith. Nor, for that matter, does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who broke a promise to fellow Republican Jeff Flake to allow a vote on Dream this month.

When dealing with opponents who want to hurt us, we need Senate Democrats to hold the line-and maintain their unity-to win us the permanent protection, a path to citizenship through the Dream Act, that we need.

My future, and the future of my family, is on the line.

Sen. Schumer, you made my daughter a promise. No more bad deals. It’s time to deliver.

Eliana Fernández is a member of Make the Road New York, the largest grassroots community organization in New York offering services and organizing the immigrant community.