Disagreement over DACA Could Result in Government Shut Down

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Time is running out for President Donald Trump’s announcement to wind down the government program that prevents deportation of young and undocumented immigrants. But founders of Frontera Fund, Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are fighting back.

In September of this year, the Trump administration had announced its intentions to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a program granting undocumented migrants who arrived in the US as children temporary protection. The specific plan is to end DACA in March 2018, a move that would negatively affect almost 800,000 individuals who are protected under the program. They are also referred to as “Dreamers,” which is short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

President Trump’s aims to terminate DACA is fueled by the anti-immigration beliefs that, among a few others, illegal immigrants are stealing jobs of Americans. This is despite the 4.1 percent unemployment rate as well as apprehensions of illegal immigrants being at a low point.

On Thursday, the President’s attempts to terminate DACA have in part threatened a government shutdown. Congress passed a short-term spending deal to prevent a shutdown on Saturday, when funding expires, thereby postponing its fight over government funding for a couple of weeks. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the deal – this sets up a budget fight later this month. Despite the deal, it is expected that Democrats will still insist on replacing the Dreamers program.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) increased tensions on Thursday by intensifying the Democrats’ demands for a protection of “Dreamers” by Congress before the end of the year. According to the Hill, “In what may be a preview of the next round of budget votes, Pelosi said Democrats won’t provide votes to help the Republicans pass Thursday’s continuing resolution, citing the exclusion of not only the DACA fix, but a host of other provisions Democrats deem must-pass this year.” Pelosi is putting pressure on Republicans to find votes to fund the government on their own in order to avoid a government shutdown. “We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” Pelosi said.

Furthermore, when Democratic votes are needed for the 60 to pass a funding bill in the coming weeks, a number of Senate Democrats, among them Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, are also threatening to vote against funding the government unless some version of DACA is not reinstated.

Polling results have demonstrated that the majority of Americans are indeed in favor of renewing DACA. Also, it has been noted that more Americans would blame Republicans in case of a government shut-down. As a whole, while more than 70 percent of Americans want DACA-DREAMERS to be allowed to remain in the US, about a quarter of voters believe that it is not worth shutting down the government over it.

Overall, this is a daring move on behalf of the Democrats as they have much more to lose during a government shutdown. According to FiveThirtyEight, “They hold a large lead on the generic congressional ballot, and Trump is deeply unpopular.” All this means that the Democrats have a better chance at taking back the House of Representatives, while any negative moves such as shutting down the government could compromise those chances.

Created under the Obama administration in 2012, the DACA program enables hundreds of thousands of individuals who came into the US as undocumented migrant children to live and work in the country for renewable two-year periods. Those who apply cannot have a serious criminal record and must have arrived in the US when before 2007 and at the time have been under the age of 16. Ever since its inception, as many as 800,000 Dreamers have submitted applications to join the initiative; an additional 200,000 have applied since Trump became president. If allowed to continue, the program would cover an estimated 1,3 million young individuals.

Several institutions are advocating for DACA and DREAMERS, the Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund being one of them. The Frontera Fund is an initiative that was started by Mike Lacey and Jim Larkin. The two teamed up in 1972 to lead the Phoenix New Times, which at the time was a young campus weekly publication as a response to the largely ultra-conservative local media’s coverage of student antiwar protests. Largely covering social and political issues, the paper eventually grew its audience as well as popularity among the nation’s growing alternative newspapers.

The paper eventually expanded and became known as Village Voice Media Holdings, and it quickly formed a reputation for long-form investigative reporting, magazine-style feature writing, and sophisticated coverage of music, food, film, arts, and local events. This is largely due to Jim Larkin and and Michael Lacey’s consistent commitment to the First Amendment in their writing and publications. The company was eventually sold to longtime executives and had a monthly following of 9 million print readers and 56 million online viewers. It received the Pulitzer Prize, which was among the hundreds of journalistic honors it had collected over the years.

In 2007, the two Village Voice Media executives were taken into custody for publishing coverage in their paper, Phoenix New Times, that revealed that grand jury subpoenas targeted the paper’s writers, editors and readers. In other words, Lacey and Larkin were pointing out a severe insult to the United States Constitution. They were arrested by Joe Arpaio, a notorious anti-immigrant sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, whose wrongful actions they have been exposing in Phoenix New Times on several occasions. Charges were quickly dropped, however. Furthermore, it became known later that the grand jury warrants were counterfeit and issued illegally.

Lacey and Larkin used the $3.75 million they had received as part of a settlement for their wrongful arrest to establish the Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund that focuses on helping the Hispanic community that has faced racial and civil rights difficulties in Arizona.  The Fund dollars are directed at worthy nonprofit groups that advocate for Hispanic civil rights and causes. It also endorses several other organizations that support both DACA and DREAMERS.