Congress extends immigration crisis with empty promises

After a government shutdown caused by the Trump administration and his Republican majority-controlled Congress, the Senate just passed a resolution to reopen the government for three more weeks.

Thirty-three Senate Democrats joined 48 Republicans to end debate on a  stop-gap funding bill extending the government’s spending authority through Feb. 8, setting the stage for final Senate passage. Swift approval followed in the House of Representatives, and the bill now goes to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

The deal was reached after Republicans promised to debate a solution for 800,000 young immigrants previously covered by the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program, also known as DACA, terminated in September by the Trump administration but many people around the nation are skeptical any progress will be made.

The U.S. Senate advanced bill that paves the way to reopen the federal government three days into a partial shutdown that was triggered in part by a partisan fight over the lapsed Children’s Health Insurance Program and a crisis manufactured by Trump that threatens to deport immigrants who came to America as children.

Voting against the deal was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“The reason I voted against today’s continuing resolution is simple: tens of millions of lives are at stake,” said Sanders. “Enough is enough. We cannot continue to run a $4 trillion government on a month to month basis. We need an annual budget. The Republican Party controls the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and the White House. They are the governing party. They have got to govern, not ignore the major crises facing this country.”

“Our patience cannot be extended any longer. The 800,000 young immigrants whose lives are currently in limbo, and the millions of children who rely on CHIP for access to health care deserve better, while both Republicans and Democrats are playing political football with their lives,” said Jess Morales Rocketto, of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

“We’re extremely disappointed at the Democratic leadership for choosing to put the fate of thousands of immigrant families in the hands of Senator McConnell’s empty promises when everyone knows they will never be fulfilled or, at least, will come at the cost of separating more families and terrorizing immigrant communities even more,” said Rocketto. “This weekend, over 1 million women took the streets to show Congress the unity that will defeat this hateful brand of politics and win the future. This year, we will remember who voted in favor or against our families.”

“My DACA expired on December 22nd and just last week I was stopped by law enforcement while driving,” said Laura, a Florida mother and leader of We Belong Together. “Thankfully, the officer let me go with a warning after seeing my daughter in the back seat. Congress extending their time to make a decision will not extend my permit. They already have my life in shutdown because, without the Dream Act, I can’t have a driver’s license and I can’t work, therefore I can’t put food on the table for my family. Congress needs to do its job and solve this crisis by passing a permanent solution for thousands of Dreamers and families like mine.”

“Congress is playing with our kids’ lives without considering how this hurts them and their futures,” said Ingrid Vaca, a Virginia mother of two who is also part of the group. “I’ve been visiting Members of Congress since last year and never thought I would see so much hate and racism. That’s what is keeping them from effectively addressing the issues that really matter for our families and our communities.”

“Permanent funding for CHIP, which provides health coverage for about 9 million children in low-income families, lapsed at the end of 2017 and I am happy that lawmakers finally reached an agreement,” said Lisa McCormick, a progressive New Jersey activist. “However, it has been more than 100 days, since 800,000 Dreamers lost their protection from deportation, since community health centers were funded, since hurricanes ravaged Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The Republicans refused to fix any of these issues, they still haven’t fixed them and there is little hope that empty promises with transform into action.”

“Donald Trump’s presidency is a disaster and the Republicans shut down the government in order to push a bigoted, anti-immigrant agenda because they do not care about the needs of real Americans,” said McCormick. “The fight for women’s equality is inextricably linked to children’s health insurance, common sense immigration policies, economic justice and addressing the plight of people of color who have endured the worst impact of fear and anxiety stirred up by Republicans around the country. Today’s capitulation shows the Democratic political establishment lacks what we need to defend our democracy.”

“One year after taking over dysfunctional Washington, President Trump created a political crisis but he is trying to blame on Democrats for the government shutdown despite Republican control of the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court,” said McCormick. “If Democrats in Congress cannot stomach a fight, they should get out of the way so real, working class Americans can stand up to the Republicans and their aristocratic masters.”

“Pitting the most vulnerable in our country against one another is no way to govern. Neither is passing another short-term funding bill, a practice the Pentagon called ‘wasteful and destructive’ just days ago,” said Sen. Cor Booker (D-NJ). “The way to end the Trump Shutdown and solve issues that Republican leaders have been ignoring for months was to take up a bipartisan proposal on the table that Democrats, Republicans, most Americans, and the large majority of Congress supports.”

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tried to put the best face on the outcome, after he settled for a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell he would bring an immigration bill to the floor for debate. House Speaker Paul Ryan promised Republican lawmakers that they won’t be bound by any arrangement reached in the Senate on immigration.

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