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No progress on 'Dreamers' as another US shutdown looms

  • Published at 09:19 pm February 3rd, 2018
No progress on 'Dreamers' as another US shutdown looms

The US Congress made no notable progress this week toward a deal on the status of 700,000 "Dreamer" immigrants, with President Donald Trump saying on Friday that one "could very well not happen" by a deadline next month.

Whether the lack of progress signalled the possibility of another federal government shutdown next week was unclear, but it worried the Dreamers, young people who were brought illegally into the United States as children.

Trump said last year that he would end by March 5 a program that was set up by former president Barack Obama to protect the Dreamers from deportation, and he urged Congress to act before that date. No action has resulted.

"We want to make a deal," Trump said at an event in Virginia with US Customs and Border Protection officials. And he blamed Democratic lawmakers for the impasse.

"I think they want to use it for political purposes for elections. I really am not happy with the way it's going from the standpoint of the Democrats," he said.

Democrats have said repeatedly that they want protections written into law for the Dreamers, who were given temporary legal status by Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which lets them study and work in the United States without fear of deportation.

Republicans, who control Congress, are undecided on what to do about DACA and the Dreamers. They ended a three-day retreat at a mountain resort in West Virginia on Friday not much nearer to consensus than they were a week ago.

The partisan standoff caused a partial shutdown of the federal government for three days last month after Congress failed to pass a stopgap spending measure needed to keep the lights on at federal facilities across the country.

The House of Representatives plans to vote on Tuesday on legislation to keep federal agencies operating beyond February 8, when existing funds expire, a senior House Republican aide said.

The aide did not provide details, however, on the duration of this latest-in-a-series of temporary funding measures.

Democrats have leverage on the immigration issue because their votes are needed to pass spending measures in the Senate.

The next spending deadline looms on Thursday, with Democrats defiant in their demands and Republicans remaining divided.