A rally celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander immigration took on new significance Monday after news over the weekend that the White House wants a DACA deal to include a significant crack down on immigration enforcement and border security.
“It’s a non-starter not only for Democrats, I actually think it's going to be a non-starter for Republicans as well,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, said.
The Trump administration’s newly released list of immigration policy priorities includes funding and construction of the border wall, increased enforcement and deportation measures, as well as a merit based immigration system that would curb legal immigration.
Administration officials say the measures are designed to “defend the safety and security of the country, as well as protect American workers and taxpayers.”
However, Rep. Jayapal calls it a major flip-flop of what the President had discussed with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi last month.
“Trump was building a tiny bit of goodwill by his willingness to sort of step out and say, ‘yes I rescinded the program but I really do want a permanent solution.’ Now, he's gone back to playing politics and using the Dreamers as a political football,” said Jayapal.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allowed children brought to the United States illegally by their parents the ability to work and go to school, if approved for the program.
The program will be phased out starting in March; however President Trump has urged Congress to come up with a fix.
Jayapal and other House Democrats are pushing for a clean DREAM Act and are still circulating a discharge petition to try and force the legislation to the floor.
There are also new reports Monday night that some Democrats may threaten a government shutdown over the issue, by withholding votes for the must-pass spending bill at the end of the year.
Dreamers and immigration advocates have made clear they don’t support legislation with increased enforcement measures.
“We won't stand for a bill that brings harm to our community,” said Ji Soo Kim who was brought to the United States from South Korea at age two.
“They didn't see much opportunity in South Korea; they just came to United States to build a better life "
Kim, 21, now a grad of UW, currently working at a non-profit, says her DACA status expires one year from now.
“Everything is kind of up in the air right now,” said Kim.
That's the feeling of an estimated 800,000 Dreamers in the United States, waiting for lawmakers to figure out their future.
“It's going to become clear that there aren't the votes to pass something like this in congress,” said Rep. Jayapal.
“Perhaps they think that by pushing this even further to the right with this unworkable proposal, that maybe they'll get a little bit more on border security than they would have otherwise. I don't think that's happening. I think what's going to happen is people are going to get deeply angry.”
While Congress tries to negotiate a solution, Ji Soo Kim says she's equal parts nervous and hopeful.
“We're truly just chasing the American dream, just like everyone else,” said Kim. “We're working hard and excelling in all that we do, but we're just asking for the same opportunities as everyone else."
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