Earlier this week, congressional Democrats rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s compromise to end the monthlong partial government shutdown, which offered temporary protection to DREAMers — undocumented immigrants in the United States protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Act — in exchange for $6 billion to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Closer to home, Connecticut immigrants-right activists interviewed by the News expressed similar disapproval of Trump’s proposals during the shutdown.
“I think the proposal is ridiculous. He has increased the amount he is demanding for his vanity wall to nearly $6 billion, yet he offers no real protections for DREAMers,” said Kica Matos, director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change and New Haven resident. “Let us remember that it was Trump who ended DACA … Now he is offering way less than what he took away in the first place and is also looking to strip away humanitarian protections for unaccompanied minors and asylum seekers.”
DACA, executed during the Obama administration and implemented in 2012, offers protection for undocumented immigrants who traveled to the country as children with their parents. In 2017, Trump announced he would terminate the executive order, leading to a series of political and legal fights over the program.
Disagreements over DACA led to a government shutdown in January 2018, as Senate Democrats refused to vote to a budget without protection for DREAMers. That shutdown, however, lasted just three days. The courts have largely blocked Trump’s attempt to end DACA, although the government appeal is still lodged in the court system.
Trump’s recent compromise would have extended protections to DREAMers for three years. Still, it is unlikely this will improve legal conditions for those affected. Under current law, DREAMers are able to indefinitely re-apply for protection every two years. But if Congress agreed to Trump’s proposal, the protection would terminate after three years. It would jeopardize the stay of Camila Bortolleto.
Burtello is an activist with Connecticut Students for a Dream, an advocacy organization, led by students that helps undocumented youth living in the state find opportunities. Bortolleto expressed discontent with compromises to end the partial shutdown from the White House.
“It doesn’t really do anything … the quote on quote compromise isn’t really a compromise, it’s just repackaging what he’s always wanted to do,” she said. “DACA is still in effect. People can still renew. The fact is that his deal is doing a three-year extension on DACA because that’s less than what we have now. Until the Supreme Court does something we can still renew.”
Trump is expected to offer additional proposals to Democrats in hopes of both ending the government shutdown and procuring funds to build a border wall — a key campaign promise during the 2016 presidential election.
Matos said that the immigrant-rights movement has “unanimously” rejected funding a border wall in exchange for protections for DREAMers and those holding Temporary Protected Status, which extends security to immigrants from ten countries distraught with violence or natural disaster, including Syria, Yemen and Haiti. Matos said that policymakers should not use DACA to bargain the end of the shutdown.
“We refuse to be used as bargaining chips to advance Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda,” Matos said. “Should there be legislation for DREAMers and TPS holders? Absolutely. But should this come at the cost of further militarizing the border and advancing even more draconian anti-immigrant policies? Absolutely not.”
On Jan. 24, the Senate voted on Trump’s proposal but failed to reach the necessary 60 vote threshold to pass the bill. All but one Democrat — and two Republicans — voted against the legislation. The same day, a Democrat-backed measure to temporarily reopen the government also failed, with votes falling mostly along party lines.
Bortello said that the CT Students for a Dream believe that under the current administration, undocumented immigrants are not likely to gain additional security protections. Still, she said that she looks forward to working with future administrations to protect DREAMers.
The government shutdown has lasted 35 days, making it in the longest shutdown in government history by a margin of nearly two weeks.
Emmett Shell | firstname.lastname@example.org .