Liberal outrage as Dems ignore 'dreamers' in budget deal

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WASHINGTON (AP) — On the eve of another shutdown deadline,
immigration activists joined liberal leaders Wednesday in
threatening political retribution against congressional Democrats
who ignore young immigrants in a massive spending deal.

The fresh threats exposed deepening divisions within a Democratic
Party struggling to address a liberal priority in
Republican-controlled Washington.

“I’m not a loyal Democrat,” Linda Sarsour, a political activist
who co-chaired the 2017 Women’s March, declared during a fiery
rally near Capitol Hill. “We will be joining primaries this year
and we will primary Democrats who did not have the spine or the
courage to stand up for our undocumented family.”

The activists who filled a Washington church Wednesday, like
liberal leaders nationwide, called out House Minority Leader
Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer by name
just as Senate negotiators unveiled a massive spending deal that
did not address the fate of young immigrants known as “dreamers.”

“This is a moral fight that Democratic leadership is failing on.
That’s something that’s going to have long-term implications,”
said Murshed Zaheed, political director for the progressive group
CREDO. Should Pelosi fail to unify House Democrats against the
deal, he added, “it’s going to be another strike against her
effectiveness as leader of the caucus.”

At issue is the fate of roughly 1.8 million immigrants brought to
the country illegally as children. Many of the so-called
“dreamers” will lose protection from deportation — granted by the
Obama administration in 2014 and rescinded by Trump last fall —
in the coming weeks.

No issue is more important to the Democratic Party’s most
passionate voters, who insist their party must reject any budget
deal that doesn’t protect the young immigrants — even if it means
risking a second government shutdown this year. The federal
government will shutter non-essential operations Thursday at
midnight unless Congress passes a spending plan.

It’s unclear whether the liberal outrage will sink the two-year,
nearly $400 budget deal unveiled Wednesday that would provide
Pentagon and domestic programs with huge spending increases.
Schumer praised the agreement for providing needed funding for
health, drug abuse and social service programs, having dropped
his push to use the budget talks to extract concessions on

“What are they thinking? They’re giving up their leverage,” said
a frustrated Angel Padilla, policy director for the liberal group
Indivisible. “All of these votes will matter come November.”

The criticism resonated with members of the Congressional
Hispanic Caucus, such as Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-Calif., who
said the Latino community thinks Senate Democratic leadership
“has turned their back on them.”

“It’s not being made a priority,” Barragan said of the party’s
push to protect those enrolled in the program known as Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. “It’s a mistake to not
use every leverage point we have.”

Hispanic caucus members and many other Democrats made clear to
Pelosi earlier Wednesday that “we would not support a budget caps
deal unless we had some clarity about what would happen to
Dreamers,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz. They insisted, he
added, on DACA language in the budget deal — or some guarantee
that the issue would be addressed.

Liberals scoffed at Pelosi’s push to elicit a promise from House
Speaker Paul Ryan to allow the House to vote on a DACA deal, just
as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had in his chamber.

Democrats and Republicans “face a fundamental choice” on whether
to protect dreamers, said Ben Wikler, Washington director for the
liberal group MoveOn.

“There will be a reckoning,” he warned.

The disappointment extended to DACA recipients like 26-year-old
Edwin Romero, of Dallas, who born in Mexico and brought to United
States at the age of 6.

“So far we have seen that the Democrats failed the immigrant
youth community,” Romero charged. He addedL “We are tired of
false promises and words. We want action.”


Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Alan Fram
contributed to this report.

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