Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said he and other liberal House Democrats are prepared to support a government shutdown if House members fail to pass the Dream Act and protect hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants from being deported.
"We have a Democratic caucus where I know the vast majority of the members of the Democratic caucus are ready to say ‘If there is no pathway forward, not only for the 800,000 and for visas for all of you, but also for the rest of immigrant youth through the Dream Act, then there is no government for anyone,'" Gutierrez said Friday during a press conference with the United We Dream advocacy group. "We will shut it down or let the Republicans keep it open with their own votes."
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, who was also at the event, later confirmed to Mic that the "vast majority of the progressive caucus" support shutting down the government in this event.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that DACA would end under the Trump administration within six months, providing Congress time to respond accordingly. Obama established DACA in 2012 through an executive order, and it applies to approximately 800,000 illegal immigrants ages 15-36, protecting them from deportation.
There is a bipartisan push by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to pass legislation in the form of the Dream Act. With this bill, DACA recipients and others who have lived in the U.S. for four years would receive permanent legal status.
"Republican leaders have the power the bring the Dream Act to a vote," a senior caucus aide told Mic. "Until they do, we will continue to force a vote using a discharge petition and any other strategy that gets us a vote on the Dream Act."
Hours after Gutierrez spoke, President Trump signed a $15.25 billion disaster relief bill that also includes a three-month extension of both federal government funding and borrowing authority, a move that ends the threat of a partial government shutdown at the end of the month. By the time the stop-gap measure runs out in mid-December, Gutierrez wants an immigration legislative solution that would be a holiday gift to everyone.
"The coming Christmas has to be a Christmas of joy for all of us or none of us," Gutierrez said.
"All the power and the leverage is now with us in the Democratic caucus because we know that there is no raising of the debt ceiling, there is no opening of the government unless Democrats cooperate and are coopted in the process," he added.