Friday , February 22 2019

Democrats ignore ‘Dreamers’ in budget deal

Agreement adds money for defense, infrastructure

Immigration activist Linda Sarsour speaks during a National Day of Action for a Dream Act Now protest on Feb 7, in Washington DC. A coalition of activists came from across the US to demonstrate for a ‘Clean Dream Act’ to be passed in Congress as part of spending negotiations. (AFP)

WASHINGTON, Feb 8, (Agencies): On the eve of another shutdown deadline, immigration activists joined liberal leaders Wednesday in threatening political retribution against congressional Democrats who ignore young immigrants in a massive spending deal. The fresh threats exposed deepening divisions within a Democratic Party struggling to address a liberal priority in Republican-controlled Washington. “I’m not a loyal Democrat,” Linda Sarsour, a political activist who cochaired the 2017 Women’s March, declared during a fiery rally near Capitol Hill. “We will be joining primaries this year and we will primary Democrats who did not have the spine or the courage to stand up for our undocumented family.”

The activists who filled a Washington church Wednesday, like liberal leaders nationwide, called out House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer by name just as Senate negotiators unveiled a massive spending deal that did not address the fate of young immigrants known as “dreamers.” Some scoffed at Pelosi’s hours-long speech Wednesday on the House floor, intended to elicit a promise from House Speaker Paul Ryan to allow a vote on subsequent legislation to protect the younger immigration. Ryan’s promise, activists noted, was far from a guarantee. At issue is the fate of roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Many of the socalled “dreamers” will lose protection from deportation — granted by the Obama administration in 2014 and rescinded by Trump last fall — in the coming weeks.

No issue is more important to the Democratic Party’s most passionate voters, who insist their party must reject any budget deal that doesn’t protect the young immigrants — even if it means risking a second government shutdown this year.

The federal government will shutter non-essential operations Thursday at midnight unless Congress passes a spending plan. Senate leaders were hoping to approve a budget deal Thursday to keep the government operating past midnight amid opposition from Democratic liberals and tea-party Republicans. The agreement would shower the Pentagon and domestic programs with an extra $300 billion over the next two years.

The measure was a win for Republican allies of the Pentagon and for Democrats seeking more for infrastructure projects and combatting opioid abuse. But it represented a bitter defeat for many liberal Democrats who sought to use the party’s leverage on the budget to resolve the plight of immigrant “Dreamers” who face deportation after being brought to the US illegally as children. The deal does not address immigration. And some tea party Republicans shredded the measure as a budget-buster. Beyond the $300 billion figure, the agreement adds almost $90 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricaneslammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

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