By: Sebastian Golden
First, Democrats wouldn’t vote for any spending bill, short or long-term, without a clean DREAM Act. Then they voted for a three-week funding bill in exchange for a simple promise to address the issue sometime in the future. Just days later, they inexplicably dropped that demand. And now they’re considering giving Trump billions of dollars to spend on his wall.
So, what are the Democrats doing?
Being in the minority in both chambers of Congress and facing a Republican president, Democrats have no solid power. The only way they can shape policy is by making firm demands and sticking to them. They have seemingly decided on one demand: a DREAM Act, which would provide citizenship to DACA recipients. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protects millions of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from immigration proceedings. DACA was initiated under Barack Obama and revoked by Donald Trump, although a district court ruling has temporarily reinstated it.
If Democrats want to make the DREAM Act a reality, they need to demand it be passed and signed into law and they need to refuse to vote for any budget proposal until that happens. They already have the public on their side: according to a December poll from PRRI, 72 percent of Americans support DACA, including 63% of Republicans. If Congressional Republicans stop it from passing, let them take the political heat.
In January, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered Trump $1.6 billion in funding for the border wall in exchange for legal status- not citizenship- for DACA recipients. The wall is barely more popular among Republicans than DACA, according to PRRI, and is overwhelmingly opposed by the broader public. Schumer doesn’t need to concede unpopular, unnecessary proposals to pass a DREAM Act. Just stick with the original plan: hold out on a budget until the DREAM Act becomes law. It’ll be difficult, but it won’t happen unless Schumer and the Democrats stand up for it.