WASHINGTON – Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) gathered with immigrant-rights activist groups to push for passage of the DREAM Act after it was left out of the short-term spending bill that extended the budget deadline to this Thursday.
Advocates from United We Dream protested outside of the Capitol building last month, asking for passage of a pathway to citizenship for children who were brought to the U.S. illegally and chanting, “If we don’t get it, shut it down.” Activists also laid down a banner on the floor of the Russell Senate Office Building that read, “GOP Don’t Hold DREAM Act Hostage.”
After a recent federal court ruling, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is accepting status renewal requests from beneficiaries of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which President Trump rescinded last year. The original end date for the program was set for March 5 but no end date was established for the renewal requests after the court order. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has said it plans to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
“USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. USCIS will not accept or approve advance parole requests from DACA recipients. If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request,” the USCIS website read.
Despite the continuation of the DACA renewal process, Castro argued that congressional Republicans should stop delaying the process to reach a solution on the DACA issue.
“I think the members of Congress are listening to the American people that the American people want us to get certain things done including a permanent fix for CHIP, including DACA, which as I mentioned in the press conference is supported by about 83 percent of Americans, and they also don’t want us to keep kicking the can down the road,” he recently told PJM.
“This is something like four short-term extensions in a matter of a few months so, yeah, I don’t think that the American people want the government to run like this. This is no way to run a business, and so I think you see that sentiment reflected here right now,” he added.
Other Democratic lawmakers have been critical of the Republican majority’s use of short-term budget bills or continuing resolutions (CRs). In the past, both parties used CRs frequently. When the Democrats controlled Congress from 2009-2011, they had passed CRs in place of a full budget. Congress did not pass a budget for the entire fiscal year under President Obama until 2015 when Republicans had control of both the House and Senate.
“We have been skating by on continuing resolution after continuing resolution for almost 6 months. First, we passed a 3-month CR, then a 2-wk CR, then a 1-month CR. Now we are offered another month-long delay of the inevitable. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted ahead of last month’s brief government shutdown.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) referred to the Republicans’ current use of continuing resolutions as a “short-term sham.”
“How are we supposed to believe Republicans who say they want to do right by America’s DREAMers when, at every chance you have the opportunity to do something about it, you don’t?” Menendez said on the Senate floor. “Likewise, how are we supposed to believe you are going to start treating your responsibility to govern seriously when you can’t keep the government’s lights on for more than a couple weeks at a time? Republicans keep asking for short-term extensions when they had months to chart a real course forward for our domestic and defense spending priorities.”
In a Senate floor speech, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) also slammed Republicans for passing short-term spending bills to keep the government running. In total, 44 Democrats blocked the House-passed short-term CR, leading to the government shutdown.
“We can’t run our government three weeks, four weeks at a time,” Brown said. “We don’t have to.”
Schumer urged Republicans to negotiate with Democrats on finding a DACA solution.
“We on our side of the aisle will continue to fight strongly as we can for the DREAMers in the weeks ahead. I say to all Americans, urge your senators to vote yes on the bipartisan compromise when it comes forward. Write, tweet, e-mail, phone, visit – do everything you can so we can finally pass this bill,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “I think if we’ve learned anything during this process, it’s that a strategy to shut down the government over the issue of illegal immigration, is something the American people didn’t understand and would not have understood in the future.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said today that he’s “increasingly pessimistic” for any DACA agreement beyond a one- or two-year temporary extension.