New York Congressman: Dream Act a Must Before Discussing Budget

November 20, 2017

Congress must come to a decision on the debt ceiling and the national budget by the end of the year, but according to one lawmaker, the priority has to be the “Dreamers.”

“A clean version of the Dream Act,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat representing NY’s thirteenth district, said on Monday. One that’s “not attached to hiring an additional 15,000 ICE agents to deport the parents of the Dreamers.”

The issue hits close to home for Espaillat. About 800,000 “Dreamers”, undocumented immigrants that travelled to the U.S. when they were children, live in his district, he said.

But their future in the U.S. is now at risk, since President Trump announced plans earlier this year to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The legislation put in place by the Obama administration was meant to give these immigrants amnesty. The rollback has met with criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Espaillat’s issues with Trump go deeper than just immigration though. The Dominican-born congressman is one of six Democrats currently calling Donald Trump to be impeached.

Lead by Rep. Steve Cohen, signees Al Green (D-TX), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), John Yarmuth (D-KY), and Espaillat, presented the five articles of impeachment last week. They argue that Trump has obstructed justice, violated the Constitution’s foreign and domestic emoluments clauses and the freedom of the press, and undermined the federal judiciary.

“We have taken this action because of great concern for our country, our Constitution, our national security, and our democracy,” Cohen said at a press conference.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has discouraged action as severe as impeachment, but Espaillat argues that every person in office has the responsibility to take action in a case like this.

“We should not abdicate our responsibility as congressional members,” he said.

Private citizens are also taking up the cause. Former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, a major donor to the Democratic party, is funding a campaign calling for action against Trump and has reportedly spent $20 million on ads.

“It’s up to all of us to stand up to this president,” one ad says.

According to the website, more than 2.5 million people have already signed a petition for impeachment.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

MALE_1: Strong at least I feel very strongly that ah we will not pass any meaningf- meaningful debt ceiling or budget vote unless the DREAM Act is put on the table. A clean version of the DREAM Act and not attached to ah hiring an additional 15,000 ICE agents to deport the parents of the dreamers. I think fundamentally for me, ah that's a must on that table.

MALE_2: Right. Because it's a lot of dreamers that are in your district in particular.

MALE_1: That's correct. And there's 100,000 obviously of them. Larger than any of the congressional districts or any members.

MALE_2: Right.

MALE_1: Almost a million of them, and of course they are dreamers and they're undocumented because their parents are.

MALE_2: Right.

MALE_1: And they have shared that information ah with government voluntarily. Who they, where they live, and most of them live, many of them live with their parents. And so, if you hire an additional 15,000 ICE agents, they will go and that we will give them the green light. We will give dreamers the ability to stay here, but we will go and deport their parents. And that's unconscionable. So-

MALE_2: Right.

MALE_1: So those are some of the issues that I wanna to see done before we we we vote on the budget.

MALE_2: So just to clarify, are Democrats willing to not have a budget vote to make sure that, that doctor recipients are protected in this? They're willing to make sure that the Government's not funded?

MALE_1: Well, I like to present it in a different way. Er, I don't like to see it as a government shutdown. I like to say that ah the dreamers are probably perhaps the the the best economic development plan that we have. There are teachers, ah, nin- 900 of them are, are at, are in their armed forces, 20,000 are educators, there are workers, there are students, they're probably the best that we have in us to ah ah give it a shot in the arm to our local economy. And so we gotta, we, this is a great economic development plan to bring them in as opposed to sending them back to a country that many of them don't eve-