On Friday, December 15th, seven Dreamers were arrested during a sit-in at Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office. As of today, December 22nd, the four remaining jailed Dreamers are continuing a hunger strike until Schumer and Florida Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo acquire enough votes in the Senate to delay a vote on the current spending bill (which contains a disputed version of the Dream Act) and force a vote on a “clean” Dream Act.
Congress will have to pass a federal budget plan today or face government shutdown. The current version of the Dream Act presented to Congress does provide ways for Dreamers — who arrived to the U.S. as undocumented immigrant children — to gain citizenship. But this version also increases funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and immigration detention centers.
The “clean” version of the Dream Act would protect Dreamers without increasing family members’ risk of deportation.
In September, President Donald Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program put in place in 2012 by the Obama administration. Trump called DACA an “unconstitutional overreach of executive authority,” according to CBS News. He then ordered Congress to reinstate a new version of protective legislation for the Dreamers.
DACA deferred deportations for Dreamers and allowed those eligible to obtain two-year work or education permits, thus allowing them to stay in the U.S.
According to The New Yorker, since 2001, the Dream Act has been introduced in the Senate more than five times. This time around, the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) released a statement in which 20 Democratic Attorneys General urged Congress to pass a clean Dream Act before they break for the holidays.
The jailed Dreamers stated they would not leave the jail without a clean Dream Act being passed. But CBS News reported that Republicans want to hold off on DACA legislation until next year.
Congress has until March 5th to come up with a legislative decision.
Hundreds already feel the consequences of DACA’s end on a daily basis. Come March 5th, it’s expected that hundreds will turn into thousands. If Congress does not vote on and pass a clean Dream Act today, and it’s unlikely they will, things will only get more complicated for Dreamers.