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Dems take heat over failure to secure DACA fix this year

Dems take heat over failure to secure DACA fix this year
© Greg Nash

Democratic leaders in Congress are facing criticism from progressive groups for failing to secure legislative protections for young immigrants brought to the country illegally in the year-end stopgap spending bill.

Left-leaning groups like Credo Mobile and Democracy For America (DFA) laid blame squarely at the feet of House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP strategist says Trump could want border wall fight to continue to excite base McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers Senate Dems race to save Menendez in deep-blue New Jersey MORE (D-N.Y.) after a short-term spending bill passed the House and Senate on Thursday without the protections.

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“This is a monumental failure of leadership on the part of Democratic leaders Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers Senate Dems race to save Menendez in deep-blue New Jersey MORE and Nancy Pelosi,” Credo political director Murshed Zaheed said in a statement hammering party leaders over the issue and also noting children's health insurance.

“For months, Democratic leaders insisted they would use their leverage in year-end spending bill negotiations to protect Dreamers and reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but at the end of the day they let us down and refused to even put up a fight."

Hispanic Democrats in the House had attempted to rally Democrats in the Senate to vote against the year-end spending bill over the lack of protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients, sometimes called "Dreamers," but were unsuccessful in the late appeal.

Seventeen Senate Democrats ultimately voted for the bill to keep the government funded until Jan. 19, which passed the upper chamber by a vote of 66-32. Lawmakers faced a Friday night deadline to keep the government funded or risk a shutdown.

"It's beyond pathetic that, at the moment when they had maximum political leverage on a must-past year-end budget legislation, Democratic congressional leaders choked and refused to fight for a clean DREAM Act," DFA spokesman Charles Chamberlain said in a statement.

"Each day 122 Dreamers lose their protected immigration status and get one step closer to deportation. They don't have the luxury of waiting to fight for the lives they've built in the United States until the political sailing gets a little easier or Congressional Republicans get around to pretending like they care about their plight."

Pelosi defended congressional Democrats earlier Thursday over the criticism, explaining that the omnibus spending bill in January would be another opportunity for Democrats to take a stand on deportation protections for the thousands of DACA recipients. President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE announced in September that he would rescind the Obama-era program, which allows immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to work and attend school in the country.

“They kicked the can for the omnibus into January. It’s this year, extended, that’s what it is. It’s the process,” Pelosi told reporters. “We’ve never done that before that I remember. But nonetheless, we’re going to continue the conversation, because it is an emergency.”

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also released a statement vowing to fight for DACA protections after the stopgap spending bill passed but did not blame Democratic leadership for not taking a stand this week.

“We will continue to be relentless in our fight for Dreamers because we need this done now," the group of lawmakers said in a statement.

"We will leverage every single opportunity to keep all Congressional leaders committed to the goal of permanently protecting Dreamers by mid-January. You can bet on the CHC, Dreamers, many rank-and-file Republicans, and the overwhelming majority of Americans to hold this Congress accountable.”