The White House on Monday pinned the DACA program’s fate squarely on congressional Democrats, saying that so-called ‘DREAMers’ should take out their frustrations on lawmakers.
President Trump said in early September that he would wind down the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals system in six months, giving Congress a deadline to codify it in law or watch it wither on the vine.
Asked what she would say to people brought to the U.S. as minors – the illegal immigrants protected by DACA, his spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday that ‘they should storm Capitol Hill and protest there.’
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that illegal immigrants spared deportation under ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ rules should ‘storm Capitol Hill’ and demand both Republicans and Democrats find a way to pass a permanent fix
Pro-DACA protesters are a common sight on Capitol Hill, and at the White House, including this group egged on by Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin on Sunday
The fate of DACA was tied to Friday’s federal shutdown as Senate Democrats demanded the program’s survival must be attached to any funding bill that would keep the government’s lights on.
Democrats caved to pressure on Monday after Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to bring the issue up for a vote by February 8.
That measure, however, could be laden down with the White House’s entire immigration wish list.
Sanders said Monday that Democrats in the Capitol ‘held up’ discussion about DACA, which gives at least 700,000 people a guarantee they won’t be deported unless they commit crimes.
‘Democrats are the one that shut this discussion down by forcing a shutdown, by being unwilling to fund the government,’ she insisted.
Sanders framed DACA recipients’ worries as products of a ‘failure to actually address the issue’ on Capitol Hill.
‘They’re the ones that actually pass and make those laws,’ she said of Congress.
‘And the president gave a six-month timeframe in order for them to do that. And now I think all of America is counting on them to show up and make sure that happens.’
Protesters often demand a ‘clean’ DREAM Act, a measure that would codify DACA in law without any strings attached, but Republicans see leverage and will use it to fund President Trump’s border wall and win other immigration concessions
Illegal immigrants and their supporters demonstrated last year in front of the White House after Trump said he would end DACA unless Congress acted to save it
The DACA program’s uncertain fate continues to serve as leverage for the president to demand funding to construct a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
He also wants an end to ‘chain migration,’ a system that allows green card holders to sponsor large numbers of relatives for lawful admission into the U.S.
And Trump is demanding that Congress scrap a diversity visa lottery that awards residence and work permits to people who come from ‘underrepresented’ countries. He has said he prefers a ‘merit-based’ system that pays no notice to anyone’s country of origin.
Trump’s wall in particular, a constant campaign promise that consistently riled up crowds in 2015 and 2016, has become a sticking point for many Democrats.
At least one outspoken congressional advocate for illegal immigrants, however, is willing to grudgingly go along.
‘I think the wall is a monumental waste of taxpayers’ money, and it’s to build a monument to stupidity and it’s just idiotic,’ Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said Sunday on ABC.
‘Having said that, if that’s what it’s going to take in order to put 800,000 young men and women in the country … in a safe place and put them on course to full integration in our society … I say pay it.’
‘It’s not about a wall,’ Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois said Sunday. ‘We’ll build him a wall. Tell us how high you want it. But free the DREAMers’
The White House was a hotbed for reporters on Monday, with many asking whether Trump would back a DACA bill that included other immigration pot-sweeteners
Trump has said he will ‘take care of’ DREAMers, but it’s unclear whether they will be protected permanently before the program expires; Trump could also extend it unilaterally if Congress is close to an agreement with the March 5 deadline looming
‘It’s not about a wall,’ Gutierrez told CNN. ‘We’ll build him a wall. Tell us how high you want it. But free the DREAMers.’
That group of immigrants ‘takes its name from a failed piece of Senate legislation called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.
It was first introduced in 2001 and most recently proposed in 2012, but has never made it to a vote on the Senate floor.
The DACA program also faces an uphill legal climb following a federal judge’s injunction forbidding the White House from ending the program as scheduled.
The Trump administration is appealing that ruling directly to the Supreme Court.