No Dream Act, no spending deal: Pelosi, House Democrats must stand firm
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The Democratic Party must decide whether it is a political party that protects or deports immigrant youth.

It cannot be both.

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Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDems see Kavanaugh saga as playing to their advantage Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act MORE and House Democrats will make that decision this week.

What they do on the Dream Act as part of their negotiations over the latest federal government spending deal will impact the lives of millions of immigrants living here.

As I write this piece, the Senate has once again failed to include the Dream Act in a deal to keep the government open and funded.

So, all eyes are turning to Pelosi and the House. Now is the moment for Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues to stand firm and block any spending deal without the Dream Act.

The stakes are high, and the urgency is palpable. 

Every minute that has passed since Trump’s decision to kill the DACA program back in September, more immigrant youth in this country have become vulnerable to deportation.

Trump and senior administration officials like John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and Stephen Miller continue to insult and attack immigrants. But the American people across the political spectrum are with us.

Poll after poll has shown strong and consistent support for Dreamers and for a Dream Act. 

Immigrant youth and our allies have completely transformed public opinion, and built a broad, inclusive movement that many native-born Americans not only understand but support.

In the hours ahead, Pelosi and House Democrats must reiterate that any vote for a spending deal without Dream Act is a vote to deport immigrant youth and Trump’s racism.

If the House Democrats cave to Trump, it will give him a political victory and embolden his base. Equally worrisome, such a misguided move will weaken Democrats at a moment when most Americans clearly stand with immigrants and Dreamers. That means it will be harder, not easier, for Democrats to challenge Trump in the weeks and months ahead. 

Leaders of the national women’s march, labor unions, faith groups, progressive movement groups, and many others also joined our growing coalition to push for passage of the Dream Act. They have been a constant, vocal presence for immigrant youth in Congress lately.

If House Democrats fail to push back on Trump and the Republicans in the current spending deal negotiations, they will lose credibility and legitimacy not only among immigrant voters but among a diverse cross-section of Americans who disagree with Trump’s divisive agenda.

Indeed, failure to pass the Dream Act this week will mean current Democratic leaders in Congress lose their standing as real and effective participants in the resistance against Trump.

Hundreds of immigrant youth have traveled to Washington from across the country this week to call on Democrats and Republicans to reject the Trump immigration plan and deliver a bill that will protect immigrant youth without deporting our parents or endangering our communities.

We have given Pelosi and The House Democrats maximum leverage to secure a clean Dream Act as part of the final spending deal this week. Immigrant youth and our allies have created the political and moral conditions for a major Democratic victory on a clean Dream Act this week.

A clean Dream Act would protect immigrant youth and DACA beneficiaries without putting families or communities at risk of deportation through increased immigration enforcement measures or restrictions on nonwhite immigrants. 

Neither Trump nor Congressional Republicans can credibly paint the Dream Act as extremist or marginal.

It’s sensible reform that Americans of diverse ideological and racial backgrounds clearly embrace, whether they live in small towns or big cities, or were born here or elsewhere. 

The Dream Act has massive public appeal and is a winning issue for House Democrats.   

It’s up to Pelosi, House Democrats, and moderate House Republicans to get it done.  

But make no mistake: If the Democratic Party keeps failing to stand up for immigrant youth and our families, there will be political consequences. House Democrats will lose voters in the growing number of states where we live, work, and continue to build power. 

No vote for the Dream Act this week will mean no re-election. That’s the political reality House Democrats will face if they refuse to hold the line for immigrant youth and our families.

#NotMyDemocrats will soon be the message of defiance we send to House Democrats if they fail to stand with us, the same way that many Americans continue to tell Trump he is #NotMyPresident. 

Cristina Jiménez is Executive Director of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the United States.