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Democrats caved on shutdown -- and their left is not happy

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

But in the end, it was hard to deny that Republicans had won, the Democrats had caved and the Democratic party's progressive wing was furious at Schumer.

Schumer called off the filibuster after McConnell promised to consider legislation by early February to extend DACA beyond the March deadline that President Trump announced last year, a deadline which could lead to deportation of an estimated 700,000 people.

There is broad support for DACA, even among Republicans, as a matter of fairness to young people who know no other home country but this one. But a minority of Republican hardliners who want more limits, not expansion, has meant the immigration measure requires some votes from Democrats to win passage.

Now the future of DACA relies on a promise from McConnell to take it up in the next three weeks, now that the rest of the budget deal has been approved. But there's no guarantee that he will stick by his promise or, if the measure does pass the Senate, that House Republicans will take it up.

That's why many Democratic progressives, in particular, feel betrayed by their own leaders' reluctance to fight it out, even if it means a long government shutdown. "This shows me," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat and leader on the immigration issue, "that when it comes to immigrants, Latinos and their families, Democrats are not willing to go to the mat."

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But Democrats also have had to face another reality: They're negotiating from a position of weakness, having lost control of both Congress and the White House. Republicans already have been running robo-calls in swing states like Ohio accusing Democrats of holding up children's health care in order to help undocumented immigrants.

It is a political tragedy that the lives of productive DACA youths have become pawns in Washington's political games, especially since support for a permanent Dreamer fix is high in both parties. Yet when even the controlling party has trouble telling what their own president wants, that's the reality in which we live -- at least until the next elections.

(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

(c) 2018 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.





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