The Republic is Saved! (for Two and a Half Weeks)

The government shutdown came in like a lion and went out like a lamb…only to return in three weeks. Congressional Democrats failed to secure a guarantee a fix to the problem of people covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—they are still living in limbo. Fortunately, there is a six-year extension of the funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) so kids from low-come families won’t lose their health insurance. It’s a pretty low bar, but it is nonetheless cleared.

The travails of the 700,000 DACA folks continue. As do those of DREAMERs not covered by DACA (3.6 million total). They are still in an indeterminate state. The lame commitment the Democrats got was that Republican Leader Mitch McConnell might, possibly, maybe, we’ll see, depends, pledge to take up immigration legislation now that the government is back operating. Swell.

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell (L), President Trump, Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (R).

 

DACA folks came here illegally as children, through no fault of their own. They know no other country than this one. They will still live in fear and they have every reason to be afraid. Republicans went from referring to them as “DACA recipients” or even “dreamers” to “illegal immigrants” or aliens. It’s little comfort that McConnell says, “For real. Cross my heart…” Dreamers will continue to live in soul-shaking uncertainty. It’s inhuman.

A big unknown is where the president stands, really on anything, but specifically on DACA. During the campaign he promised to “take care of the dreamers.” More recently, he claimed an immigration bill to let the dreamers stay would be “a bipartisan bill of love.”

 

Then his campaign committee let loose with this:

 

 

There is some comfort that children from low-income families won’t be turned away at the doctor’s office door. In as many as 20 states, funding for CHIP was expected to expire Feb. 1. But even coming so close to the deadline for this important program is unnecessary and just plain mean for the 1.7 million kids at risk. The federal funds expired in September but the Republican-controlled House and Senate did not act to renew the funding.

So far, the consensus is that the Democrats caved, getting no hard commitment on DACA. The thought here is, give Trump the damn wall if it’s in exchange for DACA people staying permanently. It’s a colossal waste of money but if the Republicans are willing to blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the deficit, let them do it for the stupid wall, too.

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