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Top-Ranking Democrats Say No Government Shutdown Over Dreamers

— December 13, 2017

Two top-ranking Democrats said they won’t push a government shutdown in December if Dreamers aren’t saved from deportation.

According to, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have shifted their rhetoric away from radical. While still insisting on drafting comprehensive and fair immigration reform, the two politicians have stopped trying to leverage a fix for Dreamers into an end-of-the-year spending bill.

Dodging Dreamers could lead to faster reform, but isn’t guaranteed to bear fruits for the former beneficiaries of Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Rescinded by President Trump in September, DACA provided limited legal protections for illegal immigrants who arrived to the United States as children. Known popularly as “Dreamers,” Trump expressed some sympathy for the demographic, insisting that Congress find a way to save them from deportation.

But, in an unexpected move, President Trump reneged on his promise.

Wendolynn Perez, 23, second from left, a DACA recipient who is now a permanent resident and is originally from Peru, chants with other supporters of immigration reform outside the White House. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo. (image and caption via

Even after making a deal to secure the future of Dreamers with Democratic leaders, the commander-in-chief pulled his support. Instead, Trump said he’d only sign off on a DACA fix if legislators would fund a controversial wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

While talks are still in progress, most Democrats seem content to meet Republicans in the middle.

“This is something that the president said he wanted to do. This is something that has a broad bipartisan majority,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI). “Whether we get it done this week or next week, or this month or next month, I think remains to be seen.”

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) suggested that negotiations were more likely to lead both parties to a favorable outcome.

“Obviously, I want a Dreamers fix by the end of the year,” said Murphy. “I’m not sure that it serves our purpose to draw hard lines in the sand in the middle of negotiations.”

And the party’s top leadership seems focused on reassuring their conservative counterparts that Dreamers aren’t their only priority. Schumer, Pelosi, and other influential Democrats have purportedly made a point of classing those left behind by DACA as just one of many issues to be resolved by December’s end.

“Democrats are not willing to shut the government down, no,” said Pelosi last week, after being asked how far Democrats would go to ensure a solution for Dreamers. “As I said, that is part of our priorities that are listed here, and there may be some more.”

Despite the assurances that Dreamers remain on the agenda, activists and some Democratic politicians have voiced their displeasure with the party’s official stance. With Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) saying they’ve no intention of coupling a DACA fix with December’s spending bill, some wonder whether action in early 2018 will be enough.

“If Congress goes home for Christmas and leaves Dreamers in the cold, there will be a grassroots uprising that will scorch every legislator who fails to do what’s right,” said Ben Wikler,’s Washington director.


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