DACA battle could end in government shutdown

By Spectrum News,
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 12:12 PM EST

Lawmakers are working to strike a deal on a program that protects young, undocumented immigrants from deportation.

  • Government funding for DACA runs out Friday
  • Activists concerned young people could be deported
  • Top Democratic leaders, Republican counterparts to meet this week

But time is running out, and government funding for DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, runs out Friday.

It was put in place during the President Barack Obama administration and Democrats are demanding immigrant protections.

The battle could end in a government shutdown.

Activists are urging Congress to act this year to protect 800,000 young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

"These are Americans. These are people who are working in our communities, going to our schools, part of the fabric of our country," said Hanna Siegel of New American Economy.

Siegel is organizing online forums and events in all 50 states this week.

President Donald Trump ended the Obama-era deferred action program in September. Some GOP leaders have said they want to work on a replacement and insist the deadline for action is in March.

But activists say by then it could be too late.

"The DACA program is set to end in March, which means that young people will be in danger of deportation starting early next year, so the urgency is real," she said. "We think that we need a solution for dreamers by the end of this year, and then we need to talk about how to fix the rest of the immigration system."

Republicans are moving toward passing a two-week stopgap measure to keep the government open through Dec. 22.

"The DACA program is set to end in March, which means that young people will be in danger of deportation starting early next year, so the urgency is real." - Hanna Siegel, New American Economy

That task is now complicated after many Democrats have said they won't vote for government funding without protections for tens of thousands of young immigrants known as Dreamers.

Top Democratic leaders say they are going to the White House on Thursday to meet with their Republican counterparts and President Trump to discuss the year-end agenda, after abruptly pulling out of a meeting last week.

They released a statement saying, "We're glad the White House has reached out and asked for a second meeting with an open mind, rather than deciding that an agreement can't be reached."

Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said lawmakers should be focused on avoiding a government shutdown.

"Certainly, Democrats will be working with our Republican colleagues in Congress to that end," he said. "I think our Republican colleagues agree. I hope that they won't succumb to President Trump's whim, based on a political decision, not on what's good for America."

White House legislative director Marc Short said Monday that Trump wants a solution to the issue of dreamers, but said he does not want it attached to the spending bill.