Yesterday, we recalled Moses' words to Israel that "
I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Perhaps, we could say that yesterday's immigration votes opted to choose NEITHER.
NO DREAMER PROTECTIONS were confirmed, as all three amendments that offered various levels of security for dreamers were defeated. The bi-partisan Coons-McCain Amdt. 1955-"USA Act" had included the full Dream Act, together with a data-driven (non-wall) approach to border security. The vote failed 52-47, with 4 Republicans voting for the bill, including: Sen. Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Graham (R-SC), Sen. Flake (R-AZ), and Sen. Murkowski (R-AK). Sen. Manchin (D-WV) voted against the bill.
DAMAGING PROVISIONS WERE HELD AT BAY, as:
--Grassley's #1959, the "Secure & Succeed Act," were not allowed to dismantle family reunification, add $52 billion more for enforcement, or offer assistance to a limited number of dreamers. This bill most clearly mirrored Trump's desired "4 pillars," and the vote failed 39-60. Three Democrats voted for the bill, including Sen. Donnelly (IN), Sen. Heitkamp (ND), and Sen. Manchin (WV).
--Rounds-King's #1958, the "Immigration Security and Opportunity Act" (developed by the bi-partisan "Common Sense Coalition") failed 54-45, with 8 Republicans voting for the bill: Sen. Alexander (TN), Sen. Collins (ME), Sen. Flake (AZ), Sen. Gardner (CO), Sen. Graham (SC), Sen. Isakson (GA), Sen. Murkowski (AK), and Sen. Rounds (SD). Democratic Senators Harris (CA), Udall (NM), and Heinrich (NM) voted against the bill.
--Toomey's #1948, the "Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act," which threatened to withhold funding to cities refusing to link police with ICE forces failed 54-45, with four Democrats voting for the bill: Sen. Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Manchin (D-WV), McCaskill (MO), and Stabenow (MI).
"It was a disappointing day for dreamers and their families, where Congress held opportunity in their hands, but were unable to reach an agreement that could have offered great hope to dreamers, comfort to their families, and a path beyond fear for their communities. In this season of Lent, may we all repent of tendencies toward racist practices and fears of others that continue to hold us back from fully appreciating the gifts of our neighbors, and offering them love.
It likewise was a great relief that systems of criminalization and mass incarceration of immigrants were not fed with further funding, and that cuts to opportunities for families to finally reunite with one another were not removed.
Now, we have opportunities--through next week's in-district recess, to continue to raise our values of family unity, access to asylum, protections from trafficking, preservation of family based migration, and reasonable border provisions that are informed by the communities most impacted."
Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries Director
*Stay tuned for much more in the coming days about how you can get ready to speak and act when your legislators are on RECESS in your districts in the week ahead!!
The time remains urgent, as by Valentine's Day, nearly 20,000 DACA recipients have lost their protection. Hundreds of thousands will continue to live at risks if Congress is unable to act. As Disciples, let us continue to be immigrant welcoming communities!