Immigrant advocates denounce congressman for ‘inability to protect Dreamers’

Following their votes Thursday for a stopgap measure to keep the federal government running, two Rio Grande Valley congressmen came under fire Friday from local immigration advocates who said they didn’t do enough to protect Dreamers.

The Laredo Immigrant Alliance, a group led by Dreamers and their allies, and La Union Del Pueblo Entero, a local immigrant advocacy group, denounced Cuellar’s yes vote and his “inability to protect Dreamers.”

“With this shameful vote, Congressman Cuellar has joined the deportation caucus,” LUPE spokesman John-Michael Torres said. “Cuellar’s constituents like most Americans, support immigrant youth and want to see them remain in the country. Congressman Cuellar knows that the Trump Administration is going after Dreamers; 122 immigrant youth lose protection from detention and deportation daily. Congressman Cuellar has just voted to deport them.”

Both congressmen stated in advance of the vote they were not going to support a shutdown of the government under any condition. This was despite their outspoken support for the more than 700,000 recipients of the program — of which a large contingency reside in Texas.

“I empathize; I supported DACA; I’ve signed on to all the legislation on DACA; but I’m not going to shut down for any reason like the Republicans did in 2013 over health care,” Cuellar said Thursday night after the vote.

Cuellar responded in a statement issued Friday, contending that he’s long supported the plight of DACA recipients and Dreamers.

“I have met with them face-to-face, on multiple occasions, and have told them very specifically that I would not be willing to shut down the government over any single issue because it would severely impact veterans, military service members, educators and federal workers across the country that depend on steady paychecks,” Cuellar said in the statement, arguing that the immigration advocates who claim the congressman supports deportation “know it is not true.”

Cuellar also warned that a shutdown would affect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sending “63 percent of CDC employees home during one of the worst flu epidemics in years — and this would have been simply unacceptable.”

Gonzalez, in a statement, reiterated his support for Dreamers, funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program and keeping the government functioning.

“Voting ‘no’ on this bill would not make a deal on DACA more likely,” Gonzalez stated. “We have until March to negotiate a bipartisan compromise and make an earnest effort to get this done right. A ‘yes’ vote is a responsible vote for our children, our veterans, our seniors, and our federal employees.