In late January, the Democrats prepared themselves to get played on saving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by consenting to reopen the government based on assurances that Republicans would act in good faith and bring a deal to the floor. On Friday, they got played.
Congress reached a deal early Friday morning to reopen the government once again and fund disaster relief efforts, among other things. As predicted, it was reached without any kind of agreement to codify the program that has extended temporary protection from deportation to more than 700,000 immigrants brought to the United States as children.
And just like that, Democrats’ leverage on the issue disappeared; some will even admit it. “This was the last leverage point,” Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois, told the Washington Examiner. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, another Illinois Democrat, agreed in a comment to reporters. “Is it realistic?” he asked. “Can you continue to threaten with something?”
“Well, I think we have the moral [persuasion] of the American people,” said Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley, a representative from New York. “I think it’s moral [persuasion] at this point.”
Crowley is right that the American public wants to extend protections for DACA recipients. He is wrong to believe this is leverage. The Republican Party does not give a shit what the public wants. Much of the time, Democrats don’t, either.
And people watching their status expire will continue to suffer for it.