Students react to partial government shutdown, express support for DACA recipients


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Silverman Hall, 2170 Campus Drive. The partial government shutdown threatened federal funding for University research.

Alan Perez, Assistant Campus Editor

Students expressed varied reactions to the partial government shutdown, but several students agreed that Congress should find a bipartisan, long-term solution for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The federal government shut down Saturday after Senate Democrats and Republicans failed to resolve a dispute over immigration and the budget, threatening federal funding for University research and stipends for members of Northwestern’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps.

The government has been operating on short-term funding bills since September as the two parties have been unable to agree on spending levels for the year. Senate Democrats demanded the latest stopgap measure include a solution for DACA recipients. The program, which protects undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, will expire in March.

University President Morton Schapiro, who has expressed support for the DACA program in the past, told The Daily on Tuesday that his stance has not changed and that the issue is “as important as ever.”

Members of College Republicans and College Democrats expressed support for extended DACA protections, though they held differing opinions on the Democrats’ strategy.

College Republicans’ secretary of events Dominic Bayer and public relations secretary Sammy Cuautle placed blame on Senate Democrats, who blocked the temporary spending bill and did not initially concede despite the risk of a shutdown.

“Regardless of what you feel over the program, it’s pretty unreasonable to shut down the government over 800,000 people, especially when you have a much bigger policy agenda on the line that can be discussed,” said Cuautle, a Weinberg junior. “Not a great move by the Democrats.”

The move wasn’t strategically sound, he added, because many Republicans do support immigration reform, which is “long overdue.” DACA recipients continue to live in the “shadows” as a result of partisan gridlock, he said.

Bayer, a Weinberg sophomore, echoed Cuautle’s sentiments and added that the decision to hold out on a vote was “highly irresponsible” and rooted in an issue unrelated to the funding bill.

The government reopened late Monday night after Democrats compromised, won over by a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to take up the immigration issue. But some members of College Democrats were disappointed and expressed skepticism that the deal would result in protections for DACA recipients.

“I and many other Democrats are pretty disappointed in (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer and the rest of the Senate Democrats for more or less caving in to the demands temporarily of Republicans and going off Mitch McConnell’s word,” said Dylan Doppelt, the group’s communication director.

The Weinberg junior said it would have made more sense for Senate Democrats to maintain their demands, though he admitted that Democrats may have overestimated their political power. He said it worried him that Democrats caved quickly on what he saw as a questionable promise.

The move to hold out on passing a temporary funding bill is the latest in a showdown over immigration between the two parties.

President Donald Trump suspended the DACA program in September, saying former President Barack Obama overreached his constitutional authority by establishing the program through an executive order. Trump has called on Congress to pass legislation, and Republicans have expressed they are willing to do so.

But with protections for DACA recipients set to end in March, time is running out to find a bipartisan solution.

Doppelt said he remained hopeful that protections for DACA recipients will be extended, despite the concession by Democrats.

“I can’t speak for what they’re going through, but I imagine it’s horrible to have your life in the hands of a bunch of people in Washington,” he said.

Weinberg sophomore and College Democrats co-president Alex Neumann said he worried that a compromise will result in a centrist position on immigration by Democrats that could allow Republicans to pass “extreme” policies, such as a border wall.

But with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, it’s likely an immigration bill will require compromise from both sides.

“(For) people who were brought here when they were children, who didn’t make the decision to come break our laws, I think we can find a solution … and increase our border security,” Bayer said. “We can find a solution that’s going to be good for all parties and good for the American people, but I think Democrats need to be willing to compromise.”

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