Later this month, Congress must strike a deal to keep the federal government operating. Despite controlling the Senate, House and the White House, President Donald Trump and his Republican allies are looking to Democrats to help fulfill their most basic responsibility: keeping the lights on.
Democrats very rarely have the ability to moderate the GOP’s extremist agenda, but they finally have some leverage – and they should use it, unlike what The Bee editorial board advises (“Shutting government is a bad tradeoff for DACA,” Dec. 8).
There is broad bipartisan support for the Dream Act; if allowed to come up for a vote, the House and Senate would pass it. Even Trump, who has waged an aggressive campaign to demonize immigrants, recognizes that Dreamers are some of America’s best and brightest.
Under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, they received a path to continue to work and live in the U.S. without fear of being deported to be strangers in an unfamiliar country. But now Trump is now trying to renege on that promise.
When Democrats controlled Congress and the White House, they promised comprehensive immigration reform, but it never materialized. Today, Democrats have a chance to start to make up for that failure by saying loud and clear to Trump and his allies: No Dream Act, No deal!
Also hanging in the balance in the budget deal is the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers nearly 1.3 million in California so they can get checkups, immunizations, hospital and dental care, and mental health coverage. Federal authorization for the program expired Sept. 30, leaving states to hold the financial bag. In California, where the program has been integrated into Medi-Cal, coverage will continue, but will create a significant hole in our budget. Congressional Democrats must also demand that CHIP be restored.
I applaud House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Kamala Harris for making the Dream Act a precondition for supporting a budget deal. All California Democrats must now take a stand. Don’t let this fleeting moment of leverage evaporate without delivering for immigrants and children.
Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, is president pro tem of the state Senate. He can be contacted at Jonathan.Underland@sen.ca.gov.