Democrats, White House to Restart Talks on Dreamers as Government Shutdown Looms Again

By Alfonso Serrano Jan 03, 2018

Congressional leaders will meet at the White House today (January 3) to hammer out an agreement on a long-term spending bill before January 19, when the current stopgap spending bill is set to expire. Democrats are reportedly prepared to pressure Republican leaders for protections for immigrants with undocumented status as a condition for a lasting budget solution.

President Donald Trump appears ready for the brawl. He took to Twitter yesterday (January 2) to provoke Democrats on the immigration issue:

Democrats face pressure from immigration rights advocates to find a path to citizenship for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama-era program that shielded an estimated 800,000 young people who immigrated to the United States as children from deportation. Trump rescinded the program in September, but delayed its cancellation until March. Thousands of DACA recipients, commonly known as Dreamers, have lost their protections since September, according to the Center for American Progress

Some Democratic leaders have asserted that any permanent spending measure must include protections for DACA recipients. They include Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Appropriations, who has portrayed immigrant protections as a “moral issue,” according to The New York Times

Other Democrats, however, including senators who face elections this year, have distanced themselves from shutting down the government over the DACA issue. Senator Tim Kaine, (D-Va.), who faces re-election in 2018, told The Washington Post in December:

I will exercise every bit of leverage I can for the Dream Act, but if there is a vote that would lead to a shutdown, that’s where I draw the line.

Although Republicans agree the DACA issue needs a legislative solution, they appear determined to separate a budget deal from a fix for Dreamers. In December, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to hold a vote on extending Dreamer protections by the end of January if Congress can craft a plan that also improves border security and toughens legal immigration restrictions.

Said McConnell, according to USA Today:

If negotiators reach an agreement on these matters by the end of January, I will bring it to the Senate floor for a free-standing vote. I encourage those working on such legislation to develop a compromise that can be widely supported by both political parties and actually become law.