KENOSHA -- Activists in southeastern Wisconsin say Congress should include in this week's must-pass spending bill a long-term solution for certain young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children.
Congress must pass a bill funding the government by Friday in order to avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, will end in March without congressional action.
"If DACA would be repealed, it would be taking my status," said Ilse Merlin of Racine, whose mother brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 5 years old.
Now 23, Merlin said at a news conference at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha on Monday, December 4th that she pays $495 every two years to reapply for DACA status. It provides her with a Social Security number that allows her to get a driver's license and a job at her church, where she teaches for an after-school program.
"My dream is to be a teacher, to continue my education. Many obstacles will come my way, but no I will not quit. I will keep going," Merlin said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
DACA will not end until March 2018 under the terms of an executive order signed by President Donald Trump this fall, but some congressional Democrats have said they may withhold their support from a spending bill unless DACA is included in the legislation.
"That's a ridiculous position. There is no crisis," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on ABC's "This Week."
McConnell vowed there would not be a government shutdown over the immigration issue.
"I don't think the Democrats would be very smart to say they want to shut down the government over a non-emergency that we can address any time between now and March," McConnell said.
Darryl Morin of LULAC Wisconsin, a pro-immigration group, said it was McConnell who was being ridiculous.
"It's a non-emergency for anybody who isn't suffering under the fear day in and day out that they're going to lose their children, that their family will be torn apart," Morin said.
The House is set to vote on a package of bills on September 8th, 2017 that has support from unlikely bedfellows -- President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats -- but the proposal faces sharp resistance from conservatives.
President Trump and the Democratic and Republican leaders of both the House and Senate are scheduled to meet Thursday in hopes of avoiding a shutdown.