The Government Shut Down to Save the Dreamers: Here's Why

Merely 20 days into the new year, the government shut down. On Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, the shutdown ceased and the government reopened. But why did the shutdown happen, what did those three days look like, what effects are we still seeing, and, most importantly, why should college students care? 

Prior to the Shutdown

The Democratic and Republican parties were at a standstill on reaching a compromise on immigration. In the fall, the Trump administration ended the DACA program, which allowed young unauthorized immigrants to legally work in the United States. The majority of the Democratic party is in opposition to this, so they decided to wield their leverage and take a stand. The spending bill narrowly passed through the House of Representatives. However, once it reached Democratic senator Chuck Schumer, he encouraged members of his party to block the bill’s passage.

Jan. 20 Through Jan. 22

With a vote of 50-49, the government shuts down — 60 votes were needed to keep things up and running.

So what happened during these three days of closure?

All essential programs remained open including the military, Social Security, the airport TSA, and the U.S. Postal Service. Other programs weren't so lucky. The National Park Service, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, and federal research centers all took a hit by being fully or partially closed. Most notably, this had an effect on the 1.3 million military members and 1.87 million civilian government workers who were expected to work without pay or received a short-term leave. That being said, Congress was naturally still paid during this closure which adds some hypocrisy to the situation.

Jan. 22 to Today

Good news: The government reopened. Employees are being paid, nonessential federal services are running, and the economy didn't take a detrimental hit. But what about the dreamers? On Feb. 7 from 10:04 a.m. to 6:10 p.m. Nancy Pelosi took a stand, quite literally. The Democratic leader of the House of Representatives protested for a vote to protect DACA. This 8-hour stand is the longest continuous speech in the house since at least 1909. Despite the bipartisan budget bill passing, Pelosi demonstrated to progressive Democrats that they are not forgotten. At 77 years old and in 4-inch heels, Pelosi demonstrated tenacity in an effort to display that she is there for the Dreamers.

It’s important to put faces to the Dreamers. According to the New York Times, there are roughly 800,000 Dreamers falling between the ages of 16 and 35. They either have their GED, high school diploma, or are currently enrolled in high school. None of them have a serious criminal history and the majority hold high-skilled jobs. On average, they came to the U.S. at 6 years old. Their rights should be protected. The U.S. is their home. And on college campuses across the nation, there are Dreamers trying to earn their degrees just like us. As Collegiettes, we should stand in solidarity with the Dreamers, for not only are they around us but they are some of us. So the next time you hear of the 2018 shutdown of the United States government, recall that, although federal employees suffered, it was a cry to help save the Dreamers.

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