Throughout the week, faith leaders and DACA recipients — young immigrants who were guaranteed protection from deportation under an Obama-era program, since rescinded by President Trump — have urged legislators to refuse a vote on a spending bill to fund the government if it does not include DACA protections. A White House official has said Trump would sign the current version of the bill, which passed the House by a vote of 230-197. The current version does not include protections for DACA recipients — one potential make-or-break piece that could force a government shutdown Friday if it stalls in the Senate.
Thursday, faith leaders were holding vigil outside the U.S. Capitol Building — intending to light 122 candles to represent the number of DACA recipients whose statuses expire on a daily basis. And on Wednesday, a group of 82 Jewish Rabbis and allies were arrested for voicing their support for DACA recipients.
After Wednesday’s demonstrations, faith leaders and Dreamers filled the offices of Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — two Democratic senators who voted for a continuing resolution in December that did not include a DACA fix.
"[DACA protections] would allow me to continue to go to school and be a contributing member of society,” Dulce Lopez, a DACA recipient organizing with United We Dream, said outside Warner’s office. “I want to be able to petition for my mom if I am able to get my citizenship, and without the Dream Act, I wouldn’t be able to do it. So I’m asking Sen. Warner to put his hand on his heart, to do the right thing, and be a dream defender."
According to a recent report from the Center for American Progress, more than 16,000 DACA recipients have lost their status since the administration announced the termination of the program on Sept. 5.
“Our family-based immigrant system has offered opportunities for families to stay together ensuring that family members, Dreamers, and Temporary Protected Status recipients are all at the table aligns with our Scriptures," Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, who led the prayer inside of Warner’s office, said.
During last week’s televised bipartisan meeting on immigration, President Trump announced his support for a permanent solution on DACA and said to the group “I’m not saying I want this or I want that. I will sign it.”
But two days later, Trump took to Twitter to announce his opposition to the bipartisan bill. And on Tuesday, Trump continued to voice his opposition tweeting, “The Democrats want to shut down the Government over Amnesty for all and Border Security. The biggest loser will be our rapidly rebuilding Military, at a time we need it more than ever. We need a merit based system of immigration, and we need it now! No more dangerous Lottery.” He also tweeted, “We must have Security at our VERY DANGEROUS SOUTHERN BORDER, and we must have a great WALL to help protect us, and to help stop the massive inflow of drugs pouring into our country!”
Communities along the border have opposed further militarization.
“We do not want to trade up our livelihoods as [a] border community in exchange for something that will throw our families under the bus and our communities under the bus,” said Jesus Mendez Carbajal, a DACA recipient and member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition.
On Thursday, Warner and Kaine issued a statement supporting a permanent protection for Dreamers, saying in part, “[DACA] must be part of the negotiations, and there should be a vote on the compromise — or a clean Dream Act — without further delay.”
When the short-term spending bill — the third of its kind since October, which would only fund the government until Feb. 16 — moves to the Senate, it faces harsh opposition, and not just among Democrats. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have said they will not vote for the funding bill. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is undergoing treatment for brain cancer, is not expected to return to Washington for the vote.