Congress reached a short-term budget fix to avert a government shutdown, Thursday, but lawmakers are leaving the capitol without a solution for the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, known as Dreamers.
“We can't celebrate Christmas not knowing what next year is going to bring and what's going to happen to us,” said Paul Quiñonez, a DACA recipient from Washington state.
“It's unacceptable that our members of Congress, our Senators have that privilege of going home to celebrate their holidays with their families when we weren't given same courtesy,” he continued.
Quiñonez, a graduate of Gonzaga, works at the state legislature and volunteers with the Washington Dream Coalition, a group that's been lobbying Congress for immigration reform.
He and other Washington Dreamers traveled to D.C. to put pressure on lawmakers to come up with a fix before the holidays, but major end of the year business from budget to immigration reform has been left in limbo until the New Year.
“We were told December 8, then Dec. 22, now January, so this is quite frankly unacceptable,” said Quiñonez. “We hope they finally do their job and pass it then, but they're going to feel the ramifications of pushing it down, so far.”
DACA recipients have been living in uncertainty since September when the Trump administration announced plans to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, implemented under executive order, to provide protections for immigrants brought to the United States as children.
The administration has given Congress a deadline of March 5 to work out a more permanent solution.
“Every single day Republican leaders refuse to bring the DREAM Act to the floor to a vote, another 122 young people lose their DACA status, lose their ability to work legally, and lose their protection from deportation,” Senator Patty Murray said during prepared remarks on Thursday.
"We've been dealing with issues like what is the scope, how many kids will be protected, is it more than the 800,000? How many more? How long will it take them to achieve the status where they can become citizens?"
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated this week that he would bring a DACA bill to the floor for a vote next month, if a group of Republican and Democratic negotiators can reach a deal.
Immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for a clean DREAM Act; however, President Trump and Republican lawmakers want to include border security and other immigration policy changes in the legislation.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican, has indicated he received a commitment that DACA will come up for a vote in January.
“Bipartisan #DACA bill will be on the Senate floor in January,” he tweeted following his vote on the GOP tax bill.
While reaching a deal that pleases all sides of the immigration debate will be complicated, DACA largely remains a bipartisan issue.
Washington Dreamers who traveled to D.C. this week met with both Republican and Democratic representatives and stress they don't plan on giving up their fight.
“We'll be here and back as many times as it takes to finally get this done and for Congress to finally get their act together,” said Quiñonez