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Juan Escalante, “Dreamers Like Me Need Democrats To Put Immigration Back On The Table Now, Not Later”

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In his newest column for HuffPost, Juan Escalante, Communications Manager for America’s Voice, urges Democrats during this lame duck session to demand a permanent, legislative solution for Dreamers and TPS holders. He insists that Democrats must prioritize Dreamers and TPS holders during the inevitable shutdown fight over Trump’s border wall.

Escalante’s piece is excerpted below and available online here.

Congress is preparing for a lame-duck session that will undoubtedly be dominated by a high-stakes fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security, including the question of President Donald Trump’s border wall. Should lawmakers fail to reach a DHS budget deal by Dec. 7, we can expect a partial government shutdown.

Democrats are preparing a list of demands, but it appears one thing that won’t be on the list is immigration. Instead, legislators and advocates alike seem content to wait until the incoming Democratic majority takes control of the House to move on legislation protecting the more than 3 million Dreamers and hundreds of thousands of “temporary protected status” holders.

… As a current beneficiary of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and a veteran of several comprehensive immigration reform and Dreamer legislation fights, I find any strategy that delays the potential implementation of relief for DACA beneficiaries and TPS holders by a year (maybe even two) mind-boggling at best.  

Over and over, both Democrats and Republicans have attempted to enact immigration legislation that would adjust the status of millions of undocumented immigrants (whether through comprehensive packages like immigration reform or piecemeal legislation), and we have yet to score a major legislative win on the issue.

… But we shouldn’t have to wait. Immigrants and their advocates have an opportunity now to devise an approach that allows for an actual negotiation between Republicans and Democrats ― perhaps in the form of a bipartisan compromise that allows a segment of the immigrant population (like Dreamers and TPS holders) to be set free from constant deportation fears via legislation that grants them a pathway toward legal permanent residency and eventual citizenship.

… Immigrants and their advocates with political networks, public profiles and relationships on Capitol Hill can’t claim to be the sole gatekeepers of the collective opinions and voices of all undocumented immigrants, Dreamers and TPS holders. That is why it is our duty to pursue any strategy or opening to enact legislation to protect immigrant communities ― even if it doesn’t encompass everything we want.

… If there’s a conversation that could lead to a breakthrough deal on immigration policy for Dreamers and TPS holders, then our allies deserve to hear it ― even if nothing comes of it. Because waiting for the perfect deal or perfect conditions to pass any meaningful reform (while Trump uses the judicial system to undermine our victories) will leave millions of immigrants sitting with the same fear and anxiety they’ve experienced for years. And that is not a path to victory for anyone.