The United States government can't seem to come to an agreement on anything these days, and this week we found ourselves in the midst of yet another government shutdown. However, on February 7th, senate leaders began to work out a budget deal just a day before the shutdown deadline, increasing domestic spending by $63 billion dollars and military spending by $80 billion dollars, with larger increases set for 2019. This may sound a bit exorbitant, but much of the money is going to a good cause, such as funding opioid treatment, as well as projects such as wildlife and hurricane relief efforts (let's not forget that Puerto Rico has been without power for 141 days and counting). While many senate leaders are rejoicing about the compromise, many democrats are still demanding that speaker of the house Paul Ryan address the issue of the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the floor just after 10 AM on Wednesday to give a filibuster-style speech in order to attempt to force congress to take a vote on whether or not the DACA program is to stay. The government went into a brief shutdown Friday morning, but the shutdown was cancelled after Donald Trump signed the spending bill. Even with all of the compromise, there was still no word on the future of DACA written in the spending bill. The program is set to expire on March 5th, which means many people, so called "dreamers" protected under the act will no longer have protection from potential deportation. Voting is scheduled to start this upcoming week, but for now anything can happen.
Many college students fall under the protection of the DACA program, which means they were brought to the United States illegally as children under the age of 16 by their families. They had no choice in coming to this country, and most have little to no recollection of their old lives. Many still consider these dreamers to be criminal, even though they had no choice in the matter, which is why the Trump administration is looking to terminate the program. It's an uncomfortable subject within the senate, as nobody seems to want to vote against these kids, even those who strongly oppose illegal immigration. Time is of the essence, however, as DACA officially expires on March 5th this year, which is why Democrats are trying to push the vote. If no vote is made before the expiration date, both Democrats and dreamers face little to no hope of the program being revived under the current administration.
DACA needs to be revived for the betterment of our nation. Dreamers (and immigrants in general) contribute so much to our nation, more than we can imagine. They are our teachers, our students, our friends, our neighbors, our artists, our scientists, our next generation. But most importantly, they are people. Immigrants shouldn't have to achieve amazing things in order to be treated as human beings (though many of them have, indeed, achieved very spectacular things). If we deport dreamers, we aren't even giving these kids a chance at the better life their families imagined for them, that they imagine for themselves. Call your senators and urge them to keep fighting for this vote, to keep fighting for the dreamers of this nation. Time is running out, so it's time to make a difference.
Lead Image Credit: Cristopher Burns via Unsplash