Enviros Wade Into Shutdown Debate, Demand ‘Justice’ For Dreamers

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

Environmental groups have waded into the immigration debate on the side of Democrats, demanding that Congress pass legislation to end the government shutdown and address the legal status of so-called Dreamers.

A coalition of environmental groups signed a statement telling Congress to “immediately move to re-open the government with a clean funding deal that protects the Dreamers.” Some 30 activist groups signed onto the statement, which was published online Saturday.

The Sierra Club issued a separate statement Monday, calling on lawmakers to oppose a deal to reopen the federal government without addressing DACA. Furthermore, the Club used the term “Trump shutdown” that Democrats have used to try and pin the shutdown on the GOP.

“Senators should oppose this proposal because it does nothing to address the root causes of the Trump shutdown and is based on empty promises,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in the statement.

The federal government shut down Saturday morning after Democratic senators refused to support a resolution to fund the government. Democrats protested the bill because it did not include a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy started under the Obama administration.

President Donald Trump began dismantling the policy last year, and called on Congress to find a legislative solution for the 800,000 so-called Dreamers living in the U.S.

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Environmentalists are backing Democrats’ initial impulse to use a government shutdown to force a DACA fix.

“At the core of our environmental fight is the belief we have the responsibility to seek justice for the Earth and those living on it,” reads the statement.

“Denying the Dreamers protection based on racist policies and the politics of division is unacceptable,” the statement adds. “We stand in solidarity, and as environmentalists, we look to our leaders to hold the line and refuse any compromise that betrays these fundamental values.”

Siding with Democrats is the latest in a growing trend of environmental groups wading outside their traditional policy arena to back liberal causes. For example, the Sierra Club, one of the statement’s signatories, has been more active on non-environmental issues, including immigration and abortion.

The Center for Biological Diversity, another signatory, sued the Trump administration in June to stop the U.S.-Mexico border wall from being built. Activists argue that the wall would harm endangered species that range along the southwestern border.

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