- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2018

The immigration and liberal groups that pushed Democrats into a government shutdown blasted the party for caving Monday, saying lawmakers bungled the fight, gave up too early and walked away without any substantive gains.

They also said Democrats were wrong to trust assurances from Republicans on future action on immigration, and are now complicit in future deportations.

“There is no way to spin this — immigrant youth will suffer in detention camps and be deported because both parties delayed a breakthrough on the Dream Act today,” said Cristina Jimenez, co-founder of United We Dream, a leading advocacy group for the “Dreamers” whose cause Democrats said they were fighting during the shutdown.

A number of liberal activists said Democrats were outflanked in the fight, failing to make a good case to voters about why they were leading a filibuster that resulted in the shutdown.

Most Democrats said they were fighting for Dreamers, but others said they were battling for more money for domestic spending bills, or additional disaster relief for Puerto Rico.

Adding to the weight against Dreamers were new polls showing that while voters back the Dreamer cause in general, they didn’t think it was right to shut the government down over the issue.

Facing growing pressure, Democrats ended their filibuster after three days of a shutdown. They pointed to assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said they’ll start a full immigration debate over the next few weeks, as a victory.

Their supporters were less than pleased.

“Last week, I was moved to tears of joy when Democrats stood up and fought for progressive values and for Dreamers. Today, I am moved to tears of disappointment and anger that Democrats blinked,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice.

Some liberal pressure groups gave Democrats a bit of a pass, saying blame falls more on President Trump.

“The Trump shutdown was completely avoidable if President Trump and Republican leaders had been willing to negotiate in good faith,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the groups’ outrage is best directed at Congress, saying lawmakers are the ones who failed to get a deal done on legalization.

“They should storm Capitol Hill and protest there,” she said.

Indeed, that’s just what many of them have been doing. Dreamers and allies have been marching in the halls of Congress, occupying lawmakers’ offices and getting arrested by the dozens over the last few months.

Ms. Jimenez said Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, had promised activists at a Women’s March event over the weekend that he would hold firm. Yet he was one of the Democrats who switched votes and backed reopening the government Monday.

“Senators who voted today for the promise of a symbolic vote on the Dream Act are not resisting Trump — they are enablers,” Ms. Jimenez said.

Mr. Kaine and fellow Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, also a Democrat, were part of the group of 25 senators who helped broker middle ground between the parties’ floor leaders, easing the shutdown tensions.

In a joint statement Monday, the two senators said they felt their fight had forced Republicans to agree to future action, and that was enough to earn their vote to reopen government operations.

“For more than three years, the Republican majority has blocked any viable effort to fix our broken immigration system,” they said. “Today, Republican leadership has finally agreed to bring bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers to the floor in the next three weeks, and both parties — as well as the American public — will hold them to it.”

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