After government shutdown, where is the line drawn?

By Editorial Board

A three-day government shutdown came to an end Jan. 22 after Congress passed a short-term spending bill, but the cause of the shutdown has yet to be addressed. 

The government shutdown began at midnight EST Jan. 19 because Senate Democrats refused to sign off on a bill that did not include protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program recipients. 

It seems honorable that Democrats risked their reputation with the shutdown in order to push for DACA recipients  to be protected, but that façade quickly melts away in light of the concessions they offered during negotiations. 

After the government shutdown began, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer stated he offered to include President Donald Trump’s highly controversial border wall in the budget in exchange for ensuring protection for DACA recipients. Although Schumer later withdrew the offer Jan. 22, it is worrisome that the border wall was ever an option and was given any sort of validity by Congressional Democrats—even for a moment.  

Democrats then voted in favor of the short-term spending bill without pushing for anything more than Republicans’ word that further conversations on DACA will continue despite the program being set to expire in March. 

DACA recipients came to the U.S. as children and have grown up knowing only this country as their home. In order to maintain eligibility, recipients must be enrolled in school or graduated and keep a flawless criminal record. If not, they risk being deported to nations just as foreign to them as they are to us. 

DACA recipients are shining examples of upstanding young people the government has no right to vilify. This is, after all, why it was so easy for Democrats to stand behind them prior to the government shutdown because otherwise they would be complacent in negatively affecting innocent people’s lives. But DACA recipients became too inconvenient to defend once the short-term spending bill was introduced.

The first year of Trump’s term has been a tiring fight, and the years to come will likely be as relentless. With all three branches of government representing the same reactionary ideology, the public will continue to be assailed by destructive acts orchestrated by Republicans racing to strip away people’s rights. But the fiery spirit we saw from Democrats cannot die down so quickly.

Those on the left have desperately tried to maintain the small steps in progress made over the years to the point where further progress is virtually unattainable. We cannot expect legislation protecting marginalized groups when there is a constant battle to simply secure the rights already fought for.

But progress can be made in how we fight to preserve those rights. Our standards of decency have dropped so low that outright Neo-Nazi ideology has become a valid political stance, as shown by the president when he equated white supremacists to those who protested against them after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

We have been inundated by a stream of worrisome policies from Washington, D.C., and increasing tensions stoked by the administration across the country for months. When Democrats decided to collectively stand their ground with the looming threat of the government shutdown, it was a glimpse into a party that tenaciously fights for people threatened by this administration. It could have been the moment when politicians finally decided enough is enough.