Jan Dragin, Dragin Communications, 24/7, (339) 236-0679
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C./CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Saturday, January 20, 2018 —Human rights organization the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee tonight expressed grave disappointment over Congress’ decision for a government shutdown.
UUSC Vice President and Chief Program Officer Rachel Gore Freed said, “With the government shutdown decision and no DACA solution, partisan loyalty won out again today, this time favored over strategic thinking about what is best for youth in this country and for our society at large.
“That’s a tremendous loss for the American people,” she said, “as they now are forced to weigh militarization of our border and family separation with the fate of nearly 700,000 young Dreamers who have largely grown up here.”
Freed said, “By continuing to refuse to address the fate of Dreamers, Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress have caused this shutdown. There is still no clean Dream Act, no Dream Act at all, no so-called DACA fix, and, lest we forget, there is still no approved funding bill.
“As of the shutdown tonight, those Dreamers are still in limbo, once again thrust into a nightmare not of their making. After five years of living with legal status under President Obama’s introduction of the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA) program, that normalcy became history when President Trump cancelled DACA in September.”
A January ruling by a federal judge in California has temporarily blocked Trump’s decision, so for now current DACA recipients can apply to renew their status. But Freed said it’s not a permanent solution.
“Thursday, while Congress was distracted with funding bill deadlines, the White House petitioned the Supreme Court to overrule the federal judge’s action. It’s a near-desperate move however, “as the court seldom approves bypassing the lower courts.” she said.
UUSC and other immigrant rights groups have been advocating for passage of a clean Dream Act and have protested proposed DACA fixes that attempt to barter inclusion of a Dream Act in exchange for massive new border enforcement funding, restrictions to the Diversity Visa and family migration, and other anti-immigrant provisions.
“Prior to the shutdown Republican leadership tried to engineer a false and needless ‘Sophie’s Choice,'” Freed said, “by tying the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for low-income children to their proposed stopgap spending bill. It was a tactic to try to divide those who are united behind both CHIP and the Dream Act.
“CHIP’s funding never should have been in question to begin with,” she said. “This all happened because of disingenuous claims from Republican leadership that the government doesn’t have money for CHIP — paradoxically, right after the same GOP leadership passed a tax plan that will add almost 1.5 trillion dollars to the deficit.
“We greatly appreciate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who fought down to the end for inclusion of a Dream Act or DACA protections with the short-term measure,” she said. “But we’re telling them, don’t pack your bags yet. This time, we get this done.”
Freed said, “Trump and Republican leadership cannot pretend that DACA is not urgent or that it can wait until March, when they have now deepened the urgency of the crisis in the meantime.”