Memo From Former Obama Staffer Reveals Why Democrats Might Shut Down the Government Over DACA
As another spending bill deadline looms, Democrats seem willing to shut down the government in order to save the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program involved allowing "Dreamers," children of immigrants who have integrated into American society, to remain in the country, despite their questionable legal status. A memo from Jennifer Palmieri, who served as director of communications for President Barack Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton, revealed why Democrats may be willing to fall on their swords for DACA.
"The fight to protect Dreamers is not only a moral imperative, it is also a critical component of the Democratic Party’s future electoral success," Palmieri, now president of the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund, wrote in the revealing memo.
Palmieri drew a line in the sand. "Democrats should refuse to offer any votes for Republican spending bills that do not offer a fix for Dreamers and instead appropriate funds to deport them," she wrote. "Political allegiances are made in moments like these."
"If Democrats don't try to do everything in their power to defend Dreamers, that will jeopardize Democrats' electoral chances in 2018 and beyond. In short, the next few weeks will tell us a lot about the Democratic Party and its long-term electoral prospects," she concluded in the memo, originally published by The Daily Caller.
Palmieri might not have meant to insinuate that the Democratic Party's future relies on votes of illegal immigrants — or of immigrants in general — but the memo distinctly leaves that impression.
President Donald Trump's administration ended in September the DACA policy, which Obama set up in an executive order. Trump called on Congres to find a legislative fix for the "Dreamers" facing deportation, and legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives presented a bipartisan compromise on the issue. It is unclear whether the bill will pass.
In recent months, the Left's base has begun demanding loyalty to DACA at any cost. "We are laser-focused on January 19 as a do-or-die moment," Greisa Martinez, United We Dream's advocacy and policy director, told The Washington Post. A spending bill requires 60 votes in the U.S. Senate, giving Democrats leverage.
Other organizations, such as CREDO and MoveOn.org, are also pressuring Democrats to reject a compromise on DACA. When a government funding bill passed the Senate in late December, MoveOn.org publicly shamed vulnerable Senate Democrats for refusing to risk their 2018 re-election to shut down the government right before Christmas.
MoveOn.org tweeted a message to each senator who caved: "Senator Joe Donnelly, shame on you. Because of your vote for a GOP CR without the Dream Act attached, 12,000 Dreamers will spend their holidays in fear. If you live in IN, call Sen. Donnelly and tell him you are disappointed in his vote. (844) 334-5991."
The Leftist group attacked many Democrats who face difficult elections this year. MoveOn.org attacked Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — each of whom is struggling in the race for reelection in a state Trump won in 2016.
MoveOn.org also attacked relatively safe senators like Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
Democrats are tearing themselves apart over DACA because the proposal is popular. As Palmieri pointed out in her memo, "A September poll by Latino Decisions found that 91 percent of Latinos want Congress to pass a Dream Act with a path to earned citizenship. But public support for Dreamers extends far beyond Latinos. For some context, a fall Washington Post-ABC poll found 86 percent of Americans support protecting Dreamers. Similarly, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that only 15 percent of Americans believe that Dreamers should be deported."
This does not mean the American people want Democrats to shut down the government over DACA, however. As Michael Graham pointed out for CBS News, more than 60 percent of Americans say they want increased border security as part of a deal for Dreamers.
Republicans have called for an end to "diversity visa lotteries" and chain migration, along with a crackdown on sanctuary cities. A Politico/Morning Consult poll last year found that a majority of Americans oppose all of these policies, and a full 80 percent said they opposed sanctuary cities.
Worse, news stories have undergirded the danger of these policies. Graham listed the shooting of Kate Steinle — by a repeat offender shielded from federal authorities due to San Francisco's sanctuary city policy — and the two recent New York City terror attacks last year, both of which involved attackers who took advantage of immigration loopholes.
FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten further underscored why a Democrat government shutdown over DACA would be a bad idea. A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll found that only 17 percent of Americans consider a replacement for DACA to be an extremely important priority for Congress and President Trump. The issue ranked twelfth out of 15 domestic issues. Even only 20 percent of Democrats said so.
"Most people want DACA replaced. But for a lot of people, it’s not enough of a priority to shut down the government," Enten explained.
A Rasmussen Reports poll found that if no additional money was spent on border control, 55 percent of voters said they were opposed to a shutdown over protecting people covered under DACA. A mere 27 percent were in favor of it.
A recent Morning Consult survey found that a mere 25 percent of voters were “definitely” willing to prompt a government shutdown to preserve DACA, while 28 percent said they were definitely not.
That poll also found that 63 percent of American voters agreed with the statement, "Members of Congress should take all necessary steps to avoid a government shutdown. They should achieve their policy goals another way.”
Ironically, if Democrats listen to the Palmieri memo and shut down the government over DACA, they may lose in the short run in the attempt to win in the long run.
Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade hit on what could be the most devastating part of the Palmieri memo. "It's really politics, not their heart, that's pushing Democrats," he said.
Ironically, he also suggested that Donald Trump might gain political goodwill if a DACA fix is passed and signed. "It’s a faulty logic, because if you have a Republican president work with Democrats in the minority to find a pathway to citizenship for so-called dreamers, why would Democrats get the credit for that?" Kilmeade asked.
Why, indeed? Democrats might not get all the credit for a DACA fix with Trump, but they certainly would take the blame for shutting down the government...