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  1. WASHINGTON — The government is set to run out of money on Feb. 8 unless Congress passes another short-term spending bill, but the fate of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children threatens to derail those negotiations once again. Last month, the government briefly shut down when Senate Democrats voted against a short-term spending bill because it didn’t include legal protections for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The immigrants, nicknamed “DREAMers,” received deportation protection under an Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. But President Trump announced in September that he was ending the program and gave Congress until March 5 to come up with a legislative solution. There is bipartisan agreement that there need to be protections for the group, however what else the bill should include is still very much up for debate. Democrats voted to re-open the government last month after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he intended to bring immigration legislation to the floor after Feb. 8 — so long as the government stays open. Assuming GOP leaders are able to muscle enough votes to keep the government funded this week, McConnell is likely to bring some immigration bill to the floor this month. But what that bill ends up looking like is anybody’s guess. Here are the main immigration proposals being discussed at the White House and in Congress: The Trump plan The White House plan would provide a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. That number is more than double the number of “DREAMers” who qualified for the Obama-era program. However, in exchange the Trump administration has asked for $25 billion to build a wall along the southern border. The White House plan would result in at least a 25% reduction of legal immigration because it would end the diversity visa lottery and drastically narrow family-based immigration. Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller listens as President Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Jan. 9, 2018. (Photo: Evan Vucci, AP) When White House adviser Stephen Miller presented the plan to congressional staffers and Trump allies and surrogates last month, he pitched it as a compromise. But so far, the plan seems to only have inflamed the right and left. Many Democrats say the plan goes way too far in curbing of legal immigration, while hard-line conservatives say they’re uncomfortable with the proposed path to citizenship. The hardliner plan Some conservatives are viewing the DACA negotiations as an opportunity to get nearly every immigration enforcement measure they’ve ever wanted. That idea is brought together in a bill filed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security committee. Chairman Bob Goodlatte questions witnesses during a House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning the oversight of the U.S. refugee admissions program on Capitol Hill on Oct. 26, 2017. (Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images) The “Securing America’s Future Act” mirrors the White House proposal by funding the border wall, ending the diversity visa program, and limiting family-based immigration. But it also cracks down on so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement efforts; requires employers to use the E-Verify system to check the immigration status of job applicants; provides funding to hire 10,000 new federal immigration agents; and cuts at least 200,000 green cards a year given to foreigners. In exchange, the bill would provide temporary legal status to fewer than 800,000 DREAMers, requires them to renew their protections every three years, and provides no pathway to citizenship for them. The progressive option On the other end of the spectrum, some liberals are pushing for something far simpler: protections for DREAMers and nothing else. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY) That is the premise behind Democrats who are pushing for the DREAM Act, a bill that has been introduced since 2001 that gave this population of young undocumented immigrant their name. First filed by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the bill allows nearly all undocumented immigrants brought to the country before their 18th birthday to become U.S. citizens after a 13-year waiting period. That proposal took center stage during an on-camera White House meeting in January when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Trump if he would support a “clean” version of the DREAM Act. The president said he would “like to do that,” before quickly being reined in by House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who clarified that the president needed border security in exchange for any protections for DREAMers. The bipartisan plans For any bill to be signed into law it must get bipartisan support in the Senate. While Republicans have enough cushion in the House to pass legislation without a single Democrat, in the Senate legislation requires 60 votes to pass. The Senate GOP has a 51-49 majority so they’ll need at least nine Democrats to support any legislation. There have been various bipartisan coalitions in both the House and Senate which have attempted to create compromise legislation, though so far none of them seem to provide enough immigration enforcement to get the White House on board. Sen. Chris Coons questions witnesses during a September 2016 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo: Suchat Pederson, The News Journal/USA TODAY) Some of the former “Gang of Eight” members who came up with a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013 have gotten back together and hashed out a compromise that addresses the “four pillars” the White House is calling for: Protections for the DREAMer population, some funding for border enforcement, and changes to the visa lottery and family-based immigration. The proposal being touted by Durbin and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., could have close to enough support to pass the Senate but the White House has dismissed it as dead on arrival. There’s also a more narrow bill in both the House and Senate that would address protections for "a little more than 1.8 million" DREAMers and border security, according to Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., one of the leading sponsors of this approach. The bill would bolster use of technology for border security and call on the Homeland Security secretary to submit a border security strategy to Congress within a year for review. The bill does not deal with family-based migration or the visa lottery system, both provisions Trump has insisted be included. The House version of the bill — introduced by Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., — has more than 50 bipartisan co-sponsors. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Coons announced the Senate version Monday. Coons told reporters he saw the bill as the minimum that should be passed and would be open to adding provisions to deal with other issues. The punt plan Some lawmakers are discussing the possibility of extending the March 5 deadline to buy more time to hash-out a deal. “That’d be a real loss. But that’s probably where we’re headed, OK?” Graham told Politico. Other lawmakers pushed back saying that Congress needed to work under the deadline the president had originally given. Coons described it as “plan z” and said it was a “terrible idea.” Still others are pointing to the courts as a reason to delay any action. A federal judge in California ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume DACA, the program at the core of the ongoing battle. The department is now operating DACA, waiting for the Supreme Court to issue the final verdict on its legality. That means the program may survive until sometime this summer, the earliest the court could rule, even without Congressional action. Source:
  2. ALBANY — The state Assembly on Monday passed its version of the DREAM Act, which provides college financial aid for children of undocumented immigrants. "The Assembly majority recognizes that immigrants are a vital thread in the social and economic fabric of our state," Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement released before the chamber began to vote on the measure. "It is fundamentally and economically misguided to deny students who were educated in our state's public school system the tools they need to reach their academic potential and fully contribute to our state's economy." The DREAM Act is touted as a way to help ease the cost of higher education for children of immigrants in New York by eliminating obstacles to obtaining state financial aid for undocumented students. Under the proposal, those students would be eligible for general awards, performance-based awards, or the state's Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funds if they meet certain criteria — such as having attended an approved in-state high school for two or more years, graduated from such a school and applied to an in-state college or university within five years of receiving their high school diploma. Students who received a qualified state high school equivalency diploma, or were otherwise eligible for in-state tuition at SUNY, CUNY or community colleges would also be eligible. "Today we stand with the DREAMERs, these students, many of whom were brought here through no fault of their own and know no other home than this country, are being denied access to the most basic resources they need to climb the economic ladder," Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa said. The measure passed 89-42. Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-Oneida County, was among those who opposed the bill. "The state's tax burden is due to the fact that New York has become the land of the handout," Miller said in a statement. "I cannot and will not accept this practice and neither should our residents." Ballston Republican member Mary Beth Walsh, another no vote on the bill, said Democrats had "yet again chosen to prioritize the needs of illegal immigrants over legal residents." While the Democrat-dominated Assembly has passed the measure regularly, it has only been voted on once in the Republican-controlled state Senate, where it was defeated in 2014 by two votes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement late Monday praising the Assembly Democrats and urging the Senate to also approve the bill. "While Washington takes aim at immigration and holds DACA recipients hostage, it is more important than ever that New York protects our immigrants and upholds the values embodied by the Lady in Our Harbor," Cuomo said. Source:
  3. In front of a group of immigrant rights’ supporters and DACA recipients, Southgate’s Eric Rranxburgaj stood outside Detroit’s McNamara Federal Building in below-freezing weather Feb. 3 with a microphone in hand. “Today, I’m here to ask Senator Peters if he can give my dad a stay of removal,” the 15-year-old said. He’s the youngest son of Ded Rranxburgaj, a 48-year-old longtime Southgate resident who, last month, sought sanctuary with his family at Central United Methodist Church in Detroit to avoid being deported to Albania. He was scheduled to be deported on Jan. 18, but he instead chose to remain in the country to take care of his wife, Flora, who has multiple sclerosis. She had a stroke recently and is wheelchair bound. “(My mom) can’t dress herself, she can’t feed herself correctly, she can’t bath, she can’t do normal things most people do,” Eric said to the group of activists. “If my dad got deported, I’m not sure what we’d be able to do. We can’t afford to pay for rent, bills, or take care of my mother the way only my dad can.” The gathering of about 100 people outside the McNamara Federal Building, where Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has an office, was the end location of a milelong march down Michigan Avenue. The rally was organized by the statewide coalition Michigan United for legislation that would protect the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients. Michigan United and its supporters favor a clean Dream Act and oppose aggressive policies that threaten families like the Rranxburgajs and Jorge and Cindy Garcia of Lincoln Park. Cindy Garcia attended the rally and told The Detroit News that her husband, Jorge, who was deported on Martin Luther King Jr. Day after living in the country for nearly 30 years, is living with an aunt near Mexico City. Garcia said her husband is “sad, depressed” in Mexico and “unable to work because he left his birth certificate” in Michigan, and she and her family hope to visit him in April, according to The Detroit News. Rranxburgaj and his wife have lived in the U.S. for almost 18 years, after they emigrated from Albania out of fear of religious persecution. He has worked in Coney Island restaurants for almost two decades to support his family until he chose to seek sanctuary at the Detroit church. He has tried to become a U.S. citizen in the past, but was denied in 2006. ICE allowed him to stay in the U.S. to take care of his wife, but his humanitarian status was revoked last year. He has no criminal record. Eric attends Southgate Anderson High School and is a U.S. citizen. Flora, 44, is protected from deportation by her illness, and Eric’s older brother, Lorenc, 24, is a DACA recipient. Before the family moved to the church, Eric said, they lived with constant fear of ICE coming to arrest his father. “My life in the church has so far been calm,” he said. “Everyone in the church has been very helpful and supportive through our entire situation. We been calling his (Peters’) office for months and months and months and we’ve been asking friends, family, anyone that can help to call and support us.” ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said Rranxburgaj is considered a “fugitive” and likely will remain that way under his current living arrangement. “Current ICE policy directs agency personnel to avoid conducting enforcement activities at sensitive locations unless they have prior approval from an appropriate supervisory official or in the event of exigent circumstances,” Walls said, noting that churches fall into that category. A Peters spokesman declined to comment on Rranxburgaj's case specifically, saying they do not comment on "constituent's casework," but the senator said he supported the rally. “Michigan Dreamers are active members of our community: they attend our schools, serve in our nation’s military and work in businesses across our state," Peters said in a written statement. "America is the only home that many of these young men and women have ever known. "I have appreciated hearing firsthand from Michigan Dreamers about their stories, and I commend the strong civic engagement from Dreamers who are fearful about their future. I am proud to have voted in favor of the DREAM Act previously, and believe Congress must quickly take action to provide relief to our nation’s Dreamers, an effort that has bipartisan support.” The march came days before an immigration bill that will offer a path to citizenship for the nearly 800,000 DACA recipients is set to be introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bipartisan bill is being introduced with hopes to prevent another federal government shut down after Feb. 8, when last month’s stopgap spending bill expires. The government shut down for three days last month when Democrats and Republicans couldn’t reach an agreement on the future of the DACA recipients. The marchers, led by the Rev. W.J. Rideout III and David Sanchez of Michigan United, chanted as they walked down Michigan Avenue toward the McNamara Federal Building. Rideout started with, “What do we want?” “Dream Act!” the marchers replied. “When do we want it?” Rideout asked. “Now!” Followed by, “If we don’t get it, shut it down!” Kevin Casillas, Lincoln Park resident and pastor of the First Latin American Baptist Church in southwest Detroit, said he attended the rally “in solidarity with families in the Downriver community, as well as southwest Detroit, who have been affected by the un-American immigration policy being pushed” by President Donald Trump. “We do not appreciate them being used as political footballs,” said Casillas, regarding DACA recipients and immigrants who currently have no set pathway to U.S. citizenship. “These are real lives. These are real families being torn apart by an oppressive, by an unjust political game. We have been on this fight for more than a decade for these Dreamers.” He said Republicans and Democrats who support the Dream Act flip-flop when it’s inconvenient for them to stand up for DACA recipients. “And we’re tired of it,” he said. “We need a clean Dream Act to pass.” Casillas added that he’s not very optimistic in politics, but that he’ll continue to fight for this until legislators do their jobs. “As a pastor, my hope’s in God, not in people,” he said. Source:
  4. It seems increasingly likely that, on immigration, Congress will face a stark choice in the weeks ahead. It can either pass a narrowly drawn bill that attends to border security and provides legal status for Dreamers, the undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Or it can fail across the board. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware have introduced legislation designed to achieve the better outcome. Their bill is similar to a bipartisan effort already introduced in the House, where it is co-sponsored by 27 Republicans and 27 Democrats. It would grant legal status to Dreamers who’ve been in the U.S. since 2013, a population of approximately 1.8 million. The legislation would require the secretary of Homeland Security to produce a southern border security strategy, including “physical barriers,” to gain operational control and “situational awareness” along the border. In other words, it requires construction of a strategic plan to improve security rather than construction of a wall, built willy-nilly at fantastic expense, to feign security. Naturally, a basic immigration compromise that accomplishes sensible goals has committed enemies. President Donald Trump has already announced his opposition. And this bill is certainly far from the kind of comprehensive solution, involving limits on family sponsorships and a bigger emphasis on skills, that is required. Nonetheless, it represents progress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow a debate on immigration if no deal is reached and Democrats help him keep the government open for a few more weeks. It’s a measure of how degraded the Senate has become that even debate on a vital national issue is up for negotiation, but there’s no use pretending the Senate is the great deliberative body of yore. Democrats should meet McConnell’s demand, voting later this week to keep the lights on, and McConnell should in turn fulfill his promise. It’s entirely possible that there are 60 votes in the Senate to do the right thing. Coons is already proposing to add more security provisions to entice more Republicans to support the bill. A win in the Senate would then focus attention on the House. Speaker Paul Ryan has so far shown every inclination to allow his party’s extremists to ruin any chance of success – even though the existence of 27 Republican co-sponsors signals that a simple compromise on Dreamers and border security could win majority support. Of course, if Congress were sensitive to majorities, the Dreamer and border security provisions, supported by large majorities of voters, would already be law. If Ryan and company can break out of their partisan straitjacket for a day or two, perhaps they still can be.
  5. We will take a bill that the president supports," he says. "We're not going to bring immigration legislation that the president doesn't support."
  6. White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly said Tuesday that President Trump is not expected to extend a March 5 deadline for when legal protection and work permits begin to expire for young immigrants known as “dreamers” — raising the stakes for lawmaker struggling to reach a solution. “I doubt very much” Trump would extend the program, Kelly told reporters during an impromptu interview at the U.S. Capitol. He told reporters that he was “not so sure this president has the authority to extend it” because the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects roughly 690,000 undocumented immigrants was not based on law. Kelly’s comments come as lawmakers are trying to come up with a plan to grant permanent legal protections to dreamers and resolve other aspects of the immigration system. Kelly also said he would recommend against Trump accepting a short-term extension of the program legislative patch. “What makes them act is pressure,” Kelly said of Congress. Trump announced the end of DACA in September, giving lawmakers until March 5 to come up with a permanent solution. But a federal court last month ordered the Department of Homeland Security to continue accepting applications for DACA, prompting some lawmakers to say that they would have more time to resolve the issue. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is appealing the court ruling, and unless higher courts rule on the legality of the program, DHS will be required to continue renewing DACA visas. Last month, Trump unveiled a four-part plan to deal with urgent immigration issues and used his State of the Union address to endorse a plan that would legalize the status of 1.8 million dreamers — more than the actual number of young immigrants currently protected by DACA. Kelly called Trump’s endorsement of legalizing a larger pool of immigrants “stunning and no one expected it.” “There are 690,000 official DACA registrants and the president sent over what amounts to be two and a half times that number, to 1.8 million,” he said. The difference between [690,000] and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn’t sign up.” Kelly said he couldn’t believe that lawmakers would vote against Trump’s immigration plan given how “generous” it is. “If before the champions of DACA were members on one side of the aisle, I would say right now the champion of all people who are DACA is Donald Trump — but you would never write that.” About 800,000 have applied for and received DACA protections since the program began in 2012. The nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute has estimated that at least 1.3 million people are immediately eligible for the program. Immigration reform advocates have said in the past that many people brought to the country illegally as children did not apply for DACA because they did not meet the age or educational requirements, couldn’t afford the application fees ranging from $400 to $500 or fear handing over personal information to the federal government. With talks continuing across the Capitol, the White House rejected a new plan Monday from Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) that would grant permanent legal status to dreamers and bolster security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump tweeted Monday that the proposal is a “total waste of time” because it doesn’t immediately authorize spending the billions to build new barriers along the border. The new legislation, which was also introduced in the House last month, orders DHS to craft a comprehensive U.S.-Mexico border strategy but stops short of authorizing the billions of dollars that Trump and conservative Republicans want for border security construction projects. The bill also does not address changes sought by Trump to curtail family-based legal migration — derided by conservatives as “chain migration” — and end a visa lottery system used by immigrants from countries that don’t benefit from other visa programs. On Tuesday, Trump amplified Kelly’s comments, tweeting that “nearly 7 in 10 Americans support an immigration reform package that includes DACA, fully secures the border, ends chain migration & cancels the visa lottery. If D’s oppose this deal, they aren’t serious about DACA-they just want open borders.” In a separate tweet, Trump said that “We need a 21st century MERIT-BASED immigration system” and added that current family-based legal immigration programs and the diversity visa lottery “are outdated programs that hurt our economic and national security.” At the Capitol, Kelly reiterated the administration’s position that dreamers “are not a priority for deportation” presuming they avoid breaking the law. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said previously that her department would not target dreamers for deportation. But Nielsen said in an interview last month with CBS News that DHS will “enforce the law.” With lawmakers deadlocked on how to proceed, the top negotiators for each party spoke out on the Senate floor Tuesday and accused the other side of inaction. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the lead Democratic negotiator on immigration, said that his party is “willing to support a broadly unpopular and partisan proposal — the wall — in exchange for a broadly popular and bipartisan proposal” that would legalize the status of dreamers. “But the president will not take yes for an answer.” Source:
  7. President Donald Trump has rejected the latest bipartisan proposal to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program into law. The bill from Sens. John McCain and Chris Coons would provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and authorize a review of border security. Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest-ranking Senate Democrat, said a DACA deal was unlikely before Thursday's deadline to pass a funding bill and avoid a government shutdown. Talks about the codification of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program have become disjointed, as President Donald Trump and House Republicans continue to push for hardline changes to legal immigration programs as part of the package while the Senate attempts to craft a skinnier deal. The federal government shutdown last month led to promises to find a permanent solution for the program, which is set to end on March 5. But as Congress seeks to avoid another shutdown by Thursday, there is no mention of immigration in the latest round of short-term funding legislation. The current plan address military funding, Medicare, and a few other smaller government programs, but makes no mention of immigration nor DACA. Separately, the latest bipartisan attempt at a DACA agreement, unveiled Monday from Sens. John McCain and Chris Coons, was quickly rejected by the White House, which cited its lack of funding specifically for a wall along the US-Mexico border and its narrower scope. The bill would give DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship and authorize a review of border-security needs, with no commitment to future funding. Trump seemed to take a swipe at the deal in a tweet on Monday. "Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time," Trump said. "March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!" Trump's attacks on the McCain-Coons bill echo his rejection of a previous bipartisan deal from Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin that included funding for increased border security. Lawmakers from both parties are attempting to preserve DACA, the Obama-era program that protects from deportation about 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who came to the US as children. Trump said in September that he would end the program, giving Congress six months to codify it into law. Both Trump and House Republicans are pushing for a bill that not only codifies DACA and funds the wall but tightens the family-reunification rules for immigrants and ends the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery. Durbin, the Senate minority whip, has acknowledged that a deal is unlikely before the Thursday deadline to pass a new funding bill. "There is not likely to be a DACA deal, though we're working every single day, on telephone calls and person to person, to try to reach this bipartisan agreement," Durbin said Sunday on CNN. Last month, Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, agreed to end the three-day government shutdown after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell committed to addressing DACA by the next deadline. Source:
  8. The shutdown game begins

    A blame game will consume Washington if the government shuts down this Friday But first, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle must play the dare game. Republicans will essentially dare Democrats to vote no on an interim spending plan to avoid a shutdown. If Democrats vote yes, the government remains open. But if Democrats cast nay ballots, Republicans will try to turn that decision against vulnerable lawmakers in the midterm elections. By the same token, Democrats will dare Republicans to reject the same stopgap plan. This is a hope that the GOP -- wielding majorities in both the House and Senate and President Trump occupying the White House -- will present themselves as incapable of governing. A nay vote by Republicans could trigger a government shutdown. Democrats will cast the shutdown as emblematic of the bedlam associated with the Trump presidency. The irony is that neither side truly wants to stumble into a government shutdown this weekend. But Republicans and Democrats alike are daring the other side to do so. If the government shutters, only then will the sides engage in a ritualistic tournament of blame. Here’s what’s at stake: House Republican leaders hope to approve an interim spending bill to run the government through February 16 and avert a shutdown. Latched to the package is a multi-year extension of a popular health care coverage plan for children. The bill is notably devoid of any DACA language to help persons brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. But here’s the problem: Republicans may lack the votes on their side to pass the plan unilaterally without seeking Democratic support. Conservatives and members of the Freedom Caucus balk over a host of issues. Many Republicans seethe that their leaders authored a fourth emergency bill to fund the government and not a full-blown plan for the balance of the year. Republican defense hawks are apoplectic they haven’t secured a hike in military spending. Some GOPers like Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., won’t vote yes because the party has yet to address DACA. House Republicans can only lose 23 votes on their side of the aisle before needing Democrats to fill the void and approve the Continuing Resolution or “CR,” Congressional shorthand for the caretaker spending package. Democrats won’t budge unless they marshal a DACA fix. “It needs to be in the CR,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. House Republicans whipped the CR Wednesday afternoon to assess their internal vote tally. A senior Republican source described the whip count as “standard” starting place for most bills of this magnitude. “They do not have the votes,” augured House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. “Now I’m not saying they won’t have the votes….” Meadows described the circumstances as “fluid.” But the North Carolina Republican doubted there would be a government shutdown “because nobody wants one.” However, Meadows observed that Republican leaders continue to punt, repeatedly engineering provisional bills which fund the government for short spurts. Congress OK’d the first CR in September, followed by two encore CRs in December. “At some point you have to decide why the fourth CR is different than the second or the third and I don’t think there’s a compelling case,” said Meadows. Meadows observed the House is scheduled to be out of session next week and then meet in abbreviated stints in late January and early February. That almost stretches until when the funding would again lapse. Lawmakers of both parties scratch their heads as to how they can forge a pact between now and mid-February. So, the House is slated to vote on the CR today. Will it work? “Yes,” predicted Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. “Because we don’t want to be here Saturday.” Then there’s a question if such a measure could make it through the Senate. The bill must hurdle the threat of a filibuster by commanding 60 yeas. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is still out, convalescing after surgery. That means the GOP has only 50 members with which to work. If Republicans stick together, they’d have to enlist the support of at least ten Democrats to crack the 60 vote threshold. “That is a high bar,” conceded Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., when asked if all Republicans would vote in lockstep. “I don’t think it’s a given that everyone votes yes,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the third-most senior Republican in the body. “It will take a little whip work to get there.” The whipping could start with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a fierce advocate of boosting defense spending. “I’m not going to vote for a CR. You’re destroying the military here,” said Graham. Graham says short-term spending measures disproportionately wound the military compared to other areas of government. It makes it hard for the Pentagon to plan and train. “I think we’re back in the land of the CRs,” said Graham. “Anybody who thought you could get defense funding without doing DACA was pretty naïve.” Even so, could some Senate Democrats feel pressure to vote for the CR based on the children’s health insurance program provision alone? Consider Democratic senators facing re-election this fall in competitive states. Republicans would love to dare Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to vote against children’s health insurance. A roll call vote like that would supply Republicans with good political fodder. But again, Republicans must supply sufficient votes from their side. That’s far from a certainty. Otherwise, the government shuts down. Or, Republicans have to turn to another tactic. Aside from the current gambit, it’s likely Congress can try two other approaches to avoid a shutdown. Lawmakers could adopt a clean CR, simply re-upping all funding at current levels. But senior sources say there’s no way to decouple children’s health dollars from the spending package. The other option is a CR loaded with a DACA fix. That maneuver would command the votes of some Republicans and scores of Democrats. But Republican leaders may not be leaders much longer if they take that approach. So, what happens today? “We’ll learn something soon about (House Speaker) Paul Ryan, R-Wis.,” said one House Republican about the current CR scheme. “We’ll know if Ryan can pull this off, or if he’s only good at passing tax reform.” “If there is a shutdown, our fingerprints aren’t on it,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., of her Democratic colleagues. So first, there’s the dare game. We’ll likely know today which side won the dare. But if the government shuts down, we may have to wait until November to see who emerged victorious in the blame game.
  9. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Wednesday evening that a bipartisan immigration agreement has the support of a majority of the Senate. "The math is simple. We have 56 senators ready to move forward with this issue," he said. Four GOP senators signed onto the "Gang of Six" proposal. In addition to GOP Sens. Linsey Graham (S.C.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) — who negotiated the deal—that brings the total number of Senate Republicans supporting the agreement to seven. Durbin's remarks would mean that he's gotten the support of the entire 49-member Democratic caucus. That would require winning over red state Democrats up for reelection next year as well as progressives and potential 2020 hopefuls, many of whom have pressed for a "clean" immigration bill. A spokesman for Durbin didn't immediately respond to a request for comment confirming the No. 2 Democrat had received the support from every member of his caucus. Asked earlier Wednesday if he thought he would be able to bring every Democrat on board, Durbin indicated that he thought they would. But 56 supporters still leaves the bill short of the 60 votes that are likely going to be needed to overcome a filibuster. It also doesn't have the support of GOP leadership or President Trump—which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has made a condition to getting a floor vote. Supporters of the bill—including Durbin, GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), and Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.)—pressed Senate leadership to bring up their bill in back-to-back floor speeches. "I do believe that we have a proposal that can get 60 votes. ...That's what this bill is designed to do. In the end, that's what it's going to take, 60 votes," Flake said. He added that "if we're waiting for the White House to come to us with a proposal that they can support, we're likely waiting for a long time. ...We have a proposal here that can garner enough support to pass the Senate. So let's move on with it." Durbin, referring to the higher 60-vote threshold, argued that the other four votes "are there." The bipartisan deal would tie a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that includes a path to citizenship with more than $2.7 billion in border security, an elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery and changes to family-based immigration. Link:
  10. Article: Bill:
  11. SEATTLE --- A series of tweets by President Trump early Sunday morning is raising questions about the future of DACA. And DACA recipients in the Puget Sound area are taking notice. The first tweet: "DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military." Just 10 minutes later the president tweeted: "I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST” Nearly 800,000 young immigrants in the U.S. are protected by DACA, of which 17,000 are in Washington state. The tweet is making the future seem even more uncertain for DACA recipients. “There's a lot of uncertainty going on for sure,” said 23-year-old Maricruz Palma. Like many other students with DACA protection, she is worried about her future. The University of Washington student is studying finance. She came to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 11. “I came here because my parents wanted a better life,” said Palma. Paul Quinonez is the Director of Washington Dream Coalition and was 7 when he arrived in the U.S. His DACA status expires next year. “I can’t just plan my life a year out. I need to have certainty. I need to know what the future will hold. I’ve been able to graduate from university and take my career to a certain level,” said Quinonez. Palma says Trump's tweets have left DACA recipients wondering what's going to happen. “They leave us in a limbo-type of situation," Palma said. Last year, Trump said he wanted to phase out the program unless Congress sends him legislation by March to keep it. Trump and Congress are attempting to reach a deal as part of a federal spending bill that congressional leaders must pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown. Last week, President Trump rejected an immigration deal drafted by a bipartisan group of senators. The deal included a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and $1.6 billion for border security--including Trump’s promised border wall. Trump's tweet: "DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don't really want it, they want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military" --confuses some people. “I think it should be treated separately. They are two different completely issues. I didn't think military deals with immigration,” said Palma. “I think he’s definitely trying to confuse people and pitting communities out there,” said Quinonez. “You can solve both things. You can increase defense funding and you can pass the Dream Act and there’s bipartisan funding for it.” As for Trumps' follow up tweet, Palma says she has worked hard and wants to give back. “We are part of this economy. We go to school. We do taxes,” said Palma. “It's not that I'm taking things for free.” Source:
  12. The United States Department of Homeland Security has resumed accepting requests to renew Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), after the federal district court in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction on the matter. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services posted on its website that it would begin accepting DACA renewals until further notice. "We'll see if the injunction stays in place but at least as long as its in place, DACA lives for the current DACA recipients,” said Kevin Johnson, the Dean of the University of California Davis School of Law. Johnson went on to say he thinks this is a case that the Supreme Court may end up reviewing. The Trump White House rescinded DACA on September 5, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, causing a flurry of those known as dreamers to rush to renew their eligibility before an October deadline. Dreamers are the an estimated 800,000 people who entered the United States illegally as children are eligible for DACA, like Tomas Evangelista of Auburn, California. Evangelista, 27, was brought to the United States from Mexico by his mother when he was two-years-old. “My mother brought us here after my father abandoned our family,” Evangelista said. “And so she had a very difficult decision to make. She had to either stay in the country that we were born in and not have a future or risk everything and come to the United States." She risked everything and brought her children into the United States illegally, they settled in Santa Barbara. Tragedy struck his family when his mother died of cancer in 1996, Evangelista moved to Northern California to stay with extended family. In December 2016, Evangelista began speaking out in support of DACA and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors or the Dream Act – Proposed in 2001, it has gained and lost muster numerous times over the last 16 years but has never become law. He founded the group California Dreamers in February 2017 and has been rallying support for undocumented immigrants ever since. Following the recent temporary injunction made by the courts, he is urging congress to make a decision to provide relief for undocumented young people. Source:
  13. In tweets published early Monday morning, President Trump appeared to once again offer conflicting messages on the fate of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Referencing comments made in Palm Beach, Florida on Sunday evening, the president repeated his condemnation of Democrats for failing to reach a deal on immigration reform: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has emerged as a lightning rod in budget talks, with a number of Democrats indicating they will not vote for any continuing resolution to keep the government open after funding expires this Friday unless a deal is reached. DACA, an Obama-era directive, temporarily granted protective status to around 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. But in September, the Trump administration announced it would end the program, leaving the lives of DACA recipients — also called DREAMers — in an alarming state of limbo. The White House has called on Congress to find a solution, but that process hasn’t gone smoothly. Immigration proponents are advocating for DREAMer protections, as well as the restoration of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries facing severe domestic challenges, including Haiti and El Salvador. But the president has shown little interest in sacrificing his hard-line demands, including funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and massive alterations to the diversity visa lottery. Trump has contradicted himself repeatedly throughout immigration negotiations. On Tuesday he called for a “bill of love” and told lawmakers that “you folks are going to have to come up with a solution, and if you do, I will sign that solution.” But he almost immediately appeared to walk those statements back, a pattern that repeated itself throughout the week. On Thursday afternoon, the White House quickly rejected a tentative bipartisan immigration deal. By Sunday morning, Trump seemed prepared to declare DACA no longer viable, blaming his political opponents for the back-and-forth. “DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don’t really want it, they just want to talk,” the president wrote on Sunday. Other comments from the White House have only further inflamed the issue. During a Thursday bipartisan meeting with lawmakers, Trump reportedly decried immigrants coming to the United States from “shithole countries,” comments the White House initially did not deny. On Sunday night, Trump again blamed Democrats over failure to reach a deal, while appearing to name DACA as a location, rather than a presidential directive. Source:
  14. Phoenix immigration activists on Sunday continued to press U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake for a "clean" Dream Act, flooding his office with calls to legalize the status of young immigrants known as "dreamers" without agreeing to a border wall. The five-hour phone drive, held as part of Promise Arizona's "Souls to the Phones" campaign, aimed to make at least 1,000 calls to the Arizona Republican's office. The effort was set to begin at noon, but the first volunteer showed up at 10 a.m., according to civic-engagement organizer Lupe Conchas. “We’ve had a good 20 people come through and each one of those 20 people, their goal was to do 20 or more calls,” Conchas said about 4 p.m. Sunday. The organization will host a similar effort Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its headquarters, 701 S. First Street. The Promise Arizona campaign is part of a larger push for Congress to adopt legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. Flake is a leader of the bipartisan group urging a compromise to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which Trump plans to end March 5. "We’re focusing on Sen. Flake because he has been one of the lead negotiators…and we want to be sure he’s hearing the voices of his entire constituency regarding what they want to see as part of a ‘clean Dream Act,” volunteer organizer Laura Perez said in a statement. A spokesman for Flake did not immediately respond to an email from The Arizona Republic seeking comment. But the senator said Sunday on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos " that Democrats and Republicans were "trying to come forward with a compromise," Some Republicans say they will support the Dream Act if the legislation includes a provision to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while Democrats have argued for the exclusion of border-security measures. "I think we have (found a compromise), and you’ll see that this week," Flake said. The Dream Act debate has intensified since the Trump administration announced in September that it would phase out DACA, the Obama-era program that protected up to 800,000 young migrants from deportation. A federal judge in California recently ordered immigration officials to accept DACA renewal applications until a lawsuit against the Trump administration is settled. The Department of Justice could appeal the judge's order, however. More than 25,000 people in Arizona have received DACA status, which allows them to get a two-year work permit and a Social Security number. A delegation of Arizona dreamers is expected to travel to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby lawmakers. Source: