HARTFORD, CT — Sen. Richard Blumenthal wouldn’t say Monday whether he would vote to shut down the government if the Republican Party fails to find a path for Dreamers before Congress adjourns later this month.
The status of immigrant children who were brought here by their parents were thrown into limbo when President Donald Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Now, the fate of an estimated 11,000 Connecticut Dreamers, who registered with the government in exchange for being able to study and work in this country, hangs in the balance as Congress weighs a number of issues, including reconciling a tax package and continuing to fund the federal government.
“Our message to Congress is that you must not leave D.C. until there is a permanent solution for immigrant youth across the country — and the best way to do that is for a Dream Act to be attached to the year-end funding bill and it must be passed by December 22,” Camila Bortolleto, an organizer with Connecticut Students for a Dream, said.
She estimated 122 DACA recipients per day will lose their status and become targets for deportation.
“We can no longer wait because our safety is on the line,” said Bortolleto, a DACA recipient herself.
Bortolleto is advocating for any funding bill to include the Dream Act.
However, Blumenthal was less firm on his position.
Standing beside Bortolleto on Monday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Blumenthal said he hopes there will be a clean Dream Act without “poison pills” attached because “Republicans and Democrats should come together on this issue.”
Blumenthal said Congress has an obligation to approve a Dream Act and he will vote for it whether it’s appended to an end-of-year spending bill or a tax measure or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expired at the end of September. Blumenthal said all of those issues have to be addressed by Congress soon.
“There’s no reason to precipitate a crisis,” Blumenthal added. “If it comes, it will be a choice made by Republicans.”
Blumenthal isn’t in leadership negotiating with the Republican majority, so his ability to bargain over these issues is limited. He said there are ongoing negotiations and there’s reason for optimism since the concept is bipartisan.
At the same time, Blumenthal said it has to be done though before Congress adjourns on Dec. 22 and can’t wait until next year.
The urgency is that every day DACA recipients will lose their protected status and could be deported.
“Deportations will begin and they’re threatened right away,” Blumenthal said. “People need the security and reassurance that they can stay in this country.”
Negotiations over a bipartisan solution are ongoing in the U.S. Senate, but how quickly they bear fruit remains to be seen.
“I cannot see leaving Washington D.C. without this measure being passed,” Blumenthal said.
He said Congress has the responsibility to pass the Dream Act before the end of the year.