Early Friday morning marked yet again another failure by Congress to defend immigrants, as they cast their votes to green light a spending package that will not only push the annual deficit past $1 trillion, but also leaves Dreamers and undocumented immigrants in the dust.
The hours-long shutdown could have been a key point of leverage to force our representatives to vote on immigration protections, but as with the January 20 shutdown, they let another opportunity to slip through their fingers. The deal, signed by Trump, throws out the threat of a shutdown as a viable bargaining tool, effectively declawing elected officials who support immigrant rights.
The fast-approaching March 5 deadline will mark the official end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) if no legislative solution is found, even though thousands have already lost their status. After that date, an estimated 7,000-10,000 young people will lose their legal authorization each week to be in the United States as their work permits expire.
The recent terminations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan are also paving the way for even more lost legal status and crippling anxiety for our immigrant communities.
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan attempted to assuage concerns over the extremely pressing issue, speaking with reporters yesterday.
“To anyone who doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration reform bill, do not,” he said. “We will bring a solution to the floor, one that the president will sign.”
The statement echoes Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vague promise made after the January shutdown to nail down an immigration bill by the February 8 deadline.
It should be clear to immigrants and advocates alike that it’s politics as usual in Washington, and no matter how salient the issue of immigration reform and a DACA fix is for their constituents, they are beholden to political games, backroom deals, and campaign donors.
Unfortunately, elected officials who truly care about the plight of immigrants around the nation are overshadowed by their colleagues who have proven to be either negligent or simply callous in their regard for their fellow Americans, but more important, their fellow human beings.