Senate Democrats Cave on DACA and Vote to Reopen the Government

Alex Thompson, Vice News, January 22, 2018


After a 60-hour standoff in the Senate that led to a government shutdown at midnight Friday, Democrats gave up their demands for immediate protection of roughly 690,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children (also known as Dreamers) and voted Monday to reopen the government, with assurances that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring a separate immigration bill to the floor in early February.


It’s unclear what the Democrats gained from their brinkmanship. While Dems immediately pointed to the guarantee of a vote on Dreamers, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had already promised that in December to Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. “If negotiators reach an agreement on these matters by the end of January, I will bring it to the Senate floor for a free-standing vote,” McConnell said at the time.


Indivisible, along with 17 other leading groups on the Left including the ACLU, America’s Voice, and Planned Parenthood had issued a statement Monday morning calling on Democrats to stand strong and deem McConnell’s proposal “unacceptable.”

But 33 Senate Democrats voted for the continuing resolution, despite the wishes of their base. Or as White House spokesman Raj Shah put it to CNN: “They blinked.”


The reopening of the government also sets the stage for three weeks of what’s surely to be a contentious and racially fraught debate over the future of American immigration. Instead of grafting protections for Dreamers onto a budget bill as they were trying to do, Democrats will now have to give more ground to Republicans on a standalone immigration bill. The federal government is set to begin deporting Dreamers on March 5, something everyone in Washington says they don’t want.

Republicans in the House and some in the Senate have insisted that any protections for Dreamers must include enormous concessions on border security, family-based migration (called “chain migration” by some), the diversity lottery system, and even future levels of immigration.


And at least one poll taken just before the shutdown suggests McConnell was correct. While several polls over the last week showed Americans almost evenly divided over whether to blame Democrats or Republicans for the shutdown, a CNN poll showed that people did not believe the government should remain closed to ensure protection for Dreamers.

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