House approves budget without DACA protections

A budget deal approved by the Congressional House of Representatives to fund the government failed to include protection for Dreamers, which was a key aspect Senate Democrats had hoped for when they voted to approve their own version of the budget.

According to CNN, the House voted 240-186 to pass the budget, with 67 Republicans voting against it and 73 Democrats voting for it, including Rep. Suzan DelBene, who represents Redmond.

Had Democrats refused to approve the budget without protection for Dreamers, the budget could have been stalled.

Despite the bill offering no protections for DACA recipients, known as Dreamers, DelBene said the bill was a compromise.

“This bill is a compromise and not perfect but it finally puts us on a path to end this inefficient cycle of broken governance,” she said in a statement to the Reporter.

She touted that it provided funding to fight the opioid epidemic, Veterans Affairs hospitals, health care and investments in agriculture.

A spokesperson for DelBene said she viewed President Trump as responsible for putting Dreamers in a position where their protection from deportation might be threatened.

Trump forced the issue to Congress last year instead of renewing protections by executive order like former President Obama had.

The budget deal provided $11 billion in disaster relief to Puerto Rico and the 3.5 million American citizens who live there in the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.

But organizations working in immigrant communities feel very differently.

Roxana Norouzi is the deputy director for OneAmerica.

“We’re extremely disappointed in the vote for a two-year budget without a resolution for our undocumented youth. This has been a crisis that the Trump administration threw over 800,000 young people into,” she said. “We’ve gotten a lot of empty promises from Congress that a solution was coming and this is a big, big setback for us.”

While Norouzi placed the blame on Trump and Republicans for starting the process of repealing protection for Dreamers, which includes legal status, protection from deportation and the right to work, she said Democrats hadn’t done enough.

“It feels like a game of political football being played with our communities,” Norouzi said.

Even as many Democrats voted to approve the budget without protection for Dreamers, Norouzi said she was proud of lawmakers who stood with Dreamers and voted against the budget such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Sen. Maria Cantwell.

“That gives our communities a little bit of hope and fuel, and it motivates us to continue fighting but it’s not good enough, and we’re disappointed with our Congress members who didn’t see the importance of taking a stand in this moment,” she said.

As it stands, Dreamers are losing protection by the hundreds across the state and when a March 5 deadline hits, thousands across the state will lose their status daily, Norouzi said.

This opens them up to losing employment or being deported by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which has stepped up arrests in the last year.

This is causing fear and anxiety among immigrant communities, Norouzi said.

While Democrats have posited themselves as the party that would protect immigrants, Norouzi also had choice words for Republicans.

“The Republican party is faced with a choice, are they going to side with a white supremacist agenda… or are they going to stand behind a real solution for our communities,” she said.

Other organizations across the country expressed disappointment.

An advocacy group known as Power 4 Puerto Rico issued a response thanking lawmakers for including funding for the island.

However, it strongly condemned the failure of lawmakers to secure protection for Dreamers in the budget.

“Unfortunately, it is difficult to celebrate when the aspirations of thousands of young immigrants that our country has learned to call Dreamers have been thwarted,” the release said. “Today, as a result of this budget compromise, they face deportation.”

“We condemn this deal that ignores the 17,000 Americans who have lost DACA protections since September, and the nearly 800,000 who are at risk,” the statement said.

Senate Democrats voted last month to approve a budget draft with the promise from Republicans to have a debate on Dreamers with the passage of the final budget.

The budget also raises the spending cap, provides more money for military spending and keeps the government funded through most of 2019.

Sen. Maria Cantwell issued a statement last week on the budget process.

“While I support a number of the provisions in this bill, it is wrong that President Trump and Senator McConnell are once again forcing Americans to choose between financial security for community health centers and addressing the affordable housing crisis; between funding our military and solving our wildfire challenges; and between addressing the opioid crisis and Dreamers looking to secure their bright future,” she said.

A debate in the Senate was started on Feb. 12. It has been described as “open-ended” by CBS News and lawmakers hope to find an agreement that changes federal immigration statutes.

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