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In 'Slap in the Face' to Immigrants, Spending Bill Leaves Out DREAM Act While Funding Border Wall

Young undocumented immigrants are left in limbo with budget deal, while lawmakers plan to strengthen ICE with funding for agents and detention centers

Immigrant rights activists urged lawmakers to reject the spending bill released on Wednesday night, which leaves out the DREAM Act but includes funding for a border wall and detention centers. (Photo: Rodney Dunning/Flickr/cc)

With funding for President Donald Trump's plan for a border wall but no protection for young immigrants, known as "Dreamers," who were brought to the U.S. as children, immigrant rights activists on Thursday called the spending deal released by lawmakers this week an affront to immigrants across the country, and demanded that Democrats who claim to support their communities reject the plan.

"This budget is a slap in the face to the immigrant community," Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), said in a statement. "While Congress congratulates itself, this budget funds the deportation machine, criminalizes immigrants, and neglects the 800,000 hardworking Dreamers still stuck in limbo. America will not be greater or safer by undermining our immigrant communities."

The budget deal includes $1.5 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as well as funding for 45,000 beds in detention facilities and to pay 100 immigration judges and 60 attorneys for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Meanwhile, the DREAM Act, which would offer permanent protection and a path to citizenship to young undocumented immigrants, has been left out of the deal.

Since Trump announced he would rescind protections for young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act, wrote Choi, 15,000 people have lost their DACA status, putting them at risk for deportation even though they have lived and worked in the U.S. for years.

The Supreme Court last month upheld a federal judge's order that the government continue approving and renewing DACA applications despite Trump's attempts to gut the program—but immigrant rights groups stress that this is only a temporary solution, and demand passage of the DREAM Act without funding for deportations, detentions, and a border wall.

"Some Democratic leaders appear willing to vote for a spending bill that does not include the DREAM Act, and would also give Trump his deportation agents, so that they can get cash for other priorities," wrote Greisa Martinez Rosas, deputy executive director of United We Dream, in The Hill. "Our message to all members of Congress—Republicans and Democrats—is that they must oppose any spending deal that includes additional funding for the deportation and detention of immigrants."

"We're tired of hearing politicians say that they stand with immigrants, while enabling Trump's deportation agents to terrorize our communities," Rosas added.

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