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‘Congress said, sorry, no room in the inn, have a happy holiday. We’ll deal with Dream Act business in the new year’

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee decries Congress’ failure to protect DACA youth

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WASHINGTON, D.C./CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — THURSDAY December 21, 2017 — Today’s decision in Congress passing a stopgap spending bill extends government funding until January 19 left hundreds of thousands of Dreamers out in the cold by failing to pass the Dream Act before year’s end, the human rights organization Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) said tonight.

Futures remain at risk now, for some 700,000 young immigrants who lost their protected status in the U.S., with President Trump’s cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September.

Dreamers across the country, along with thousands of advocates, including UUSC, were relentless in pressing for a clean Dream Act, carried to passage as part of the contested appropriations bill. “But moral cowardice and Congressional inaction produced a shameful result,” said Joshua Leach, UUSC’s associate for programs, research, and advocacy.

“Congress has essentially said, ‘Sorry, there’s no room in the inn, have a happy holiday. We’ll deal with the Dream Act business in the new year,'” Leach said.

An increasing number of lawmakers from both parties had been embracing the call for a Dream Act to be passed along with the funding bill, but towards the end of the deliberations, congressional will was flagging on Dream Act inclusion, as well as a host of other measures— despite efforts as late as this morning by Senator Dianne Feinstein and others.

Looking ahead to January, Leach said, “UUSC argues that Congress should not fund this government until we have a clean Dream Act.”

‘Can kicking leads to loss of energy’

“Advocates fear that can-kicking tends to incur loss of energy and positive will on the part of those who decide — and in this case, the decisions affect the very lives of those who’re now at risk,” Leach said.

Since cancellation of DACA, an estimated 112 people are now losing their protected status every day. Advocates say passage of a clean Dream Act could and should put into law permanent residency and definitive steps to citizenship for undocumented young people who came to this country with their parents as small children.

“We are very disappointed Congress did not pass a clean Dream Act before passing the short-term spending bill tonight,” said UUSC’s Leach. “But we aren’t slowing down and don’t intend to fade into the snowy holiday woods. Those coalitions and Dreamers who have put themselves on the line and built will and strength over many months are already committing to continue without letup.

“UUSC and other rights groups nationwide are calling on members of Congress to pass a clean Dream Act upon their return in January,” he said.

For now, “The only winners in today’s stopgap funding decision are the lawmakers who get to go home for the holidays knowing they have delayed a political showdown at the expense of immigrant communities,” said Leach. “Chronic can-kicking strikes again,” he said. “It’s just that this time, beloved members of our communities aren’t cans to be kicked.

“But the loss today will not be permanent,” Leach added. “As the Dreamer chant goes, ‘We believe that we will win.’”

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