Liberal activists are furious with Democratic senators after most of them agreed to reopen the federal government without a firm path to shielding young immigrants from deportation.
As the third day of the shutdown dawned, liberal advocates and immigration groups fired off a joint statement blasting as “unacceptable” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) offer to merely hold a vote on immigration — with no promises for action from the House or White House — in exchange for Democratic votes to reopen the government. But three hours later, Democratic senators agreed to just those terms — sparking anger on the left.
“Millions of people flooded the streets of every major American city to stand up to Trump this weekend,” tweeted Leah Greenberg, the co-executive director of the influential activist network Indivisible. “Your constituents want you to fight. How can you possibly not understand that?”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday argued Democrats secured critical assurance for Dreamers, who are at risk for deportation as soon as March after President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“We have a way to address the fate of the Dreamers, starting right now instead of waiting until March,” Schumer said on the floor.
But activist groups that have provided his caucus crucial firepower during fights against GOP health care and tax bills were not buying that explanation.
Murshed Zaheed, political director of the liberal group CREDO Action, said Democrats’ decision shows Schumer’s willingness to betray progressives.
“Call it the #SchumerSellout,” he said in an interview. “Hashtagged.”
Ben Wikler, Washington director of MoveOn.org, slammed McConnell’s offer to Democrats and lamented the minority’s splintering over protecting Dreamers.
“What’s clear from today’s joke deal is that the grassroots movement demanding unity and courage has a lot of work to do to ensure that the whole Democratic caucus is ready to fight when the time comes,” he said in an interview.
United We Dream executive director Cristina Jimenez, whose group has mobilized its grassroots to push for Dreamer protection, tweeted that “Dems failed to fight & use their leverage to protect immigrant youth. A false promise to vote on immigration from Rs is not a strategy to win. We won’t be fooled. This vote means deportation.”
Not every group on the left lambasted Senate Democrats on Monday.
Organizing for Action, an offshoot of the political organizing arm built by former President Barack Obama, attempted to keep the blame for the three-day shutdown on the GOP even as it offered only faint praise for the Senate agreement.
“The good news for the American people is that the government shutdown – a crisis needlessly manufactured by Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and the White House – will soon be over,” OFA spokesman Jesse Lehrich said in a statement. “But let’s be clear: This stopgap measure is not a solution. It’s merely a band-aid for a self-inflicted wound that remains untreated.”
Schumer spokesman Matt House urged all supporters of Dreamer aid to come together around securing the strongest possible showing for an immigration deal next month, when McConnell has vowed to move to a debate on the issue.
“Let’s take advantage of the renewed attention and sympathy for Dreamers, and focus on winning the vote 17 days from now,” House said by email.
House Democratic leaders are expected to vote against the Senate’s three-week government funding patch, which cleared a key procedural hurdle on an 81-18 vote. That opposition may ensure that the ire of activists remains trained on the upper chamber, where only 16 Democrats voted against advancing the stopgap bill.
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