Dems Back Away from Brink on Dreamers

Heather Caygle and Elana Schor, Politico, December 12, 2017

Democratic leaders aren’t going to shut down the government to save Dreamers in December.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi haven’t stopped fighting to deliver something on immigration by the end of the month. But they’ve subtly shifted their rhetoric in recent days and aren’t insisting that deportation relief be paired with a government funding bill this year.

Top Democrats’ retreat from demands on a deal before 2018 ensures they won’t get blamed for a possible shutdown and won’t upend Senate talks on a bipartisan deal combining relief for Dreamers with border security. Those negotiations appear to be gaining momentum and may well bear fruit this month, particularly once Republicans reach a final agreement on their long-sought package of tax cuts.

But edging away from a hard-line stance also courts a potential uprising from the left, as frustrated activists have long set their sights on a Dreamer solution this year.


Schumer and Pelosi have taken pains in recent weeks to control the narrative around the fate of Dreamers, both privately and publicly, in an effort to keep the issue from getting even more politically charged and derailing any chances for a bipartisan deal.


Schumer, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have also gone out of their way to list Dreamers as just one of several issues Congress needs to address in the coming weeks, rather than solely focusing on the immigrants who were thrown into limbo after Trump rescinded the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.


Democrats are loath to be pegged as responsible for shutting down the government this month. And with Ryan and other leaders saying publicly that they have no plans to couple a legislative fix for Dreamers with spending talks this month, Democrats’ best option may be to push the issue to January.


“If Congress goes home for Christmas and leaves Dreamers in the cold, there will be a grassroots uprising that will scorch every legislator who fails to do what’s right,” Ben Wikler,’s Washington director, said in an interview.


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