Pitting Poor Children Against DREAMers

January 26, 2018

Photo by Gouldy99 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Photo by Gouldy99 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Last week, Congress failed to pass a continuing resolution -- short term federal government funding -- before the January 19 deadline. The government shut down for three days, until Monday when the House and Senate both passed appropriations measures to fund the government for three additional weeks.

Congress voted to reopen the government in exchange for Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding that expired nearly four months ago. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to allow for an open-amendment process that will ultimately lead to a DACA deal for America’s 800,000 undocumented youth.

Trump has continually sabotaged any DACA deal between Democrats and Republicans. He has made children’s health insurance and a pathway to citizenship, for people who are in every way but on paper American, political hostages by strong-arming Congress to only choose one of the two. But an overwhelming majority of Americans support both DACA and CHIP. The latest government shutdown fiasco is the latest example of a Congress that cannot govern by giving into Trump’s demands. 

CHIP funding is a win for America

A major victory in ending the shutdown came in the form of six additional years of funding for CHIP that more than nine million children use. Congress has pitted poor children against undocumented immigrants by forcing Democrats to choose one over the other. CHIP provides health insurance to over nine million children, even if their parents lack their own insurance. Millions of low-income parents across the country depend on the children's healthcare program to protect their children’s lives.

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 62 percent of Americans said that reauthorizing funding for CHIP was a top priority for them. Yet, Congress failed to reauthorize CHIP for 114 days, and these children have been unable to receive routine checkups, immunizations, dental care, and other emergency services.

In a previous policy analysis, we shared our Islamic view that “wealth should be distributed as widely as possible. In the Qur’an, wealth is given by God as a trust to ensure it is used to help the needy and less fortunate (57:7). It should not be used as “a perpetual distribution among the rich from among you.” (59:7). And virtue in Islam is not reflected in how much wealth is possessed, but by how much each individual gives back to society." Working to help others through social services is an Islamic obligation. Congress cannot continue to rubber stamp measures that benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.

Immigrants don’t feel safe under Trump

Under previous administrations, immigration enforcement has prioritized the deportation of immigrants with a history of violent crimes. But under Trump, ICE is indiscriminately sweeping up undocumented immigrants, including those without criminal records. Each month, the number of families and unaccompanied minors that ICE arrests continues to rise.

Because of this, fewer people are reporting domestic violence and rape, fewer workers are reporting injuries on the job, and fewer immigrants are enrolling in social welfare programs. Trump is disinterested in policies that will truly make America great. Instead, he is delivering campaign promises that satisfy his base but make the entire country less safe.

This week, ICE arrested a Polish doctor who is a lawful permanent resident living in the U.S. for almost 40 years and now faces deportation because of two decades-old misdemeanor charges. 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants are becoming increasingly fearful of being deported by ICE.

DACA protections are non-negotiable

By pandering to his most extreme supporters, President Trump is airing xenophobic ads to scapegoat immigrants while 122 DREAMers lose their DACA status every day and become at risk for deportation. He allows White House Advisor Stephen Miller to inject xenophobic policies that stall immigration negotiations. Lacking the proper policy understanding, President Trump himself has not been clear on the specifics of a DACA deal that would garner his approval.

However, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that 48 percent of Americans blame President Trump and the Republicans for the shutdown. A CBS News poll found that 87 percent of Americans support legal protections for DREAMers. Americans are able to look beyond the rhetoric and understand that our elected officials must take action to protect DREAMers.

The Trump administration may begin to deport DREAMers if Congress fails to pass a DACA legislative fix by the March 5 deadline. We continue to call on Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act that will provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of DREAMers. Trump has used DREAMers as a bargaining chip for his $22 billion border wall. There are no excuses as to why the U.S. cannot provide health insurance for children from low-income families and provide legal protections for DREAMers. America can have both at the same time, and that will make our country great.



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