Immigrant rights activists accuse Schumer of ‘bad deal’ to end government shutdown

Make the Road New York member Ricardo Aca, in the blue jacket marching towards U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s home Tuesday night, says Senate Democrats accepted a bad deal that put Dreamers at risk.
Courtesy Daniel Altschuler
By Bill Parry

Nearly a hundred protesters rallied outside the Brooklyn home of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer on Tuesday night in response to the Senate vote on a budget deal he made to end the three-day government shutdown Monday without protections for young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

Progressives slammed Schumer, the minority leader, for striking a deal with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to fund the government through Feb. 8 after McConnell promised to bring to the Senate floor an immigration bill that codifies the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program into law, provided the government remains open. DACA, which the administration has said will expire on March 5, shields immigrants who entered the country as children from deportation.

The rally was organized by Make the Road New York, an immigrant-rights organization based in Jackson Heights. Ricardo Aca, a Mexican-born DACA recipient from Ridgewood, spoke on behalf of the group’s 23,000 members.

“Senate Democrats have accepted a bad deal that puts our community at risk,” Aca said. “Every day, 122 more Dreamers lose status and face possible deportation. Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell and the extremists in their ranks must not be allowed to move their white nationalist agenda at the expense of a DREAM Act. Immigrant youth and their families will continue to demand a clean DREAM Act that offers us the path to citizenship that we need and deserve.

“We will be in the streets of New York, Washington and around the country until we win justice for ourselves and our families.”

The DREAM Act, a longstanding bill from which the Dreamers name is taken, would grant lawful status to immigrants brought here as children without documentation.

Schumer remained in Washington, where he informed the White House he was pulling back an offer made during negotiations last Friday that would have provided more than $1.6 billion for construction of a border wall along the Mexican border. Schumer told reporters that the offer was contingent on a more comprehensive deal that included DACA.

“The thought was that we could come to an agreement that afternoon, the president would announce his support, and the Senate and House would get it done and it would be on the president’s desk,” Schumer said. “He didn’t do that. So we’re going to have to start on a new basis, and so the wall offer is off the table.”

Schumer had said negotiating with President Trump is like “negotiating with Jell-O.”

Late Tuesday, Trump tweeted: “Cryin Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!”

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, blasted GOP lawmakers and the president.

“Republicans have proven time and time again that they can not govern,” Crowley said. “President Trump and GOP leaders lack a cohesive vision for this country, and as a result, we’re left lurching from deadline to deadline and crisis to crisis. That isn’t leadership, and it’s doing nothing to help lift up Americans, who deserve a functioning government.”

In Queens, where there are nearly 55,000 Dreamers, according to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Crowley offered some words of encouragement.

“Dreamers deserve security, stability, and a pathway to citizenship,” he said. “Democrats won’t stop fighting to bring an end to the chaos President Trump created when he ended the DACA program.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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