Democrats’ Threat To Shut Down Government Over DACA May Backfire

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

Democrats in Washington are nearly unanimous in their support for a clean bill to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and some have suggested they’ll force a government shutdown to get it.

But as the popular data analysis and political blog FiveThiryEight noted Friday, a spate of recent polling shows that such a gambit would likely backfire against the Democrats.

To be sure, a slight majority of Americans — about 53 percent, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll — want lawmakers to codify DACA protections. But the idea of shutting down the government to get a DACA bill before the end of the year finds very little support with the American public, even a majority of Democratic voters.

That’s because passing DACA amnesty isn’t a high priority for supporters of either party. Just 17 of Americans think that coming up with a replacement for DACA is an “extremely important” priority for Congress and President Donald Trump to work on the rest of this year, according to a new poll from the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Among Democrats, only a slightly higher 20 percent of respondents said amnesty was extremely important.

Passing a DACA bill ranked 12th out of 15 issues tested in the Harvard poll.

Much of the antipathy to shutting down the government over DACA comes from the fact that American voters generally dislike the idea of government closures, no matter what the reason. The most recent Morning Consult/Politico poll found that 63 percent of voters agreed with the statement, “Members of Congress should take all necessary steps to avoid a government shutdown. They should achieve their policy goals another way.”

The same Morning Consult poll found that only 25 percent of voters thought getting a DACA bill it was “definitely” worth a government shutdown.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appeared to recognize the relative unpopularity of threatening a shutdown Tuesday, when he told reporters that he didn’t think the DACA issue would trip up negotiations on a spending bill.

“We don’t think we’re going to get to that,” Schumer said. “There are good negotiations occurring between Democrats and Republicans to come up with a good DACA program as well as some good border security.”

Indeed, enough Democrats agreed with Schumer’s position that Congress passed a two-week continuing resolution Thursday. Democratic lawmakers now have until Dec. 22 to decide if they’ll use the shutdown threat to get a DACA fix the next time around.

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