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Video: In Arlington, Sen. Tim Kaine Interrupted by Protestors Who Want Government Shut Down Over DREAM Act


by a Virginia Democrat who was at the event last night…

The Arlington Young Democrats hosted Senator Tim Kaine tonight for their regular Happy Hour, in the upstairs bar of La Tasca in Clarendon. Before the AYD President, Tania Bougebrayel, could even get through introducing Senator Kaine, she was interrupted by a large crowd of protesters, shouting in chorus. They were supporters of the DREAM Act, angry at Senator Kaine’s recent statement that he would not shut down the government over the DREAM Act.

They yelled that Kaine had taken and used their stories, and used their friends as political “props,” that his actions didn’t match his words. These were passionate people, their voices angry and desperate, their eyes filling up repeatedly with tears. And while I totally understand their desperation and frustration (my grandparents fled their homelands to America, and my ex-husband fled a Middle Eastern country and came to America on a student visa)–as did Kaine, I think–they could have picked a more effective target.

I say this because Sen. Kaine has always been a strong advocate for immigration reform and immigrant rights. As head of the DNC, Kaine spoke out against Arizona’s SB 1070, arguing that it “ tramples on Americans’ basic notions of justice and legitimizes prejudice.” In 2013, he gave a 13-minute speech on the Senate floor in fluent Spanish (the first time in history) on the need for immigration reform. He has also supported and voted for the DREAM Act, and has repeatedly spoken out in support of DACA and DAPA.

Kaine waited patiently, if uncomfortably, for the crowd to stop chanting and yelling, and then spoke. He clearly had wanted to use the opportunity to talk about the horrendous GOP tax reform bill passed by Congress today. But after just barely touching on that, he tried to address the protesters’ concerns. He reiterated his support for DREAMers and for immigration reform. He said that the only good thing to come from Trump’s sudden and callous termination of the DREAMers program is that Congress is forced to come up with a permanent, legislated solution to immigration.

And while the protesters clearly want that solution today–many of them screaming out the numbers being deported already every day–the only way that can happen is for the Democrats to play hardball and threaten not to pass the next continuing resolution to keep the government open (the current continuing resolution expires on Friday). Kaine explained that while he will take every other step possible to fight for the DREAM Act, voting to shut down the government is the one thing he is unwilling to do. This is a lose-lose situation really–because although every day without a clean DREAM Act brings deportations and heartache, shutting down the government comes with grave and serious costs as well. Workers don’t get paid, Social Security and Medicare checks don’t go out, the military may not get paid and current military operations may be in jeopardy. And, of course, the last shutdown cost about $24 billion.

Additionally, Republican and Democrat leaders are working on a comprehensive bipartisan, bicameral immigration reform bill right now. What happens to those negotiations if Democrats play hardball this week? Does a shutdown bring an urgency to the negotiations that they don’t already have? Or does it break the good faith in which those negotiations are taking place? I don’t claim to know, but it’s conceivable that a Democratic Senator who has been fighting for immigrants most of his career might know and might have the political smarts to figure out the best way to get that DREAM Act passed.

Everyone has a right to protest–I’ve done my share of it myself. And we should all be holding our own elected officials accountable, even when they’re from our own party. But if we go after the ones who are fighting for us, where does that leave us? If we turn our allies into our villains, who’s left to fight for us?

  • Very hard to argue with this…


    • Liz Pettit


  • Liz Pettit

    I struggle with this. If Democrats banded together they could force Republicans to make the choice: pass a clean Dream Act or shut down the government. And if Republicans refused, in many ways it would be Republicans shutting down the government, not Democrats. The Democrats would simply be standing up for what the American people want. I am all for compromise and collaboration but I believe it is worth playing hard ball over this issue. No justice for dreamers means no justice for all Americans. This is not weighing one evil against another, it is taking a moral stand on what is right. Democrats should have started playing hardball much sooner on this issue and they wouldn’t be going into this week of negotiations already having surrendered.

  • I found Kaine’s arguments why shutting down the government would be immoral on face but also harmful to the state and the country persuasive. This would not be choosing the lesser of two evils — this would be committing an evil for the (very uncertain!) chance to avert another evil. If you criticize Democrats for not being willing to obstruct a continuing resolution, you must defend the very broad harms of a government shutdown (against federal workers and contractors, veterans, the disabled, and the economy at large (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/10/01/the-nine-most-painful-consequences-of-a-government-shutdown/)

    If a government shutdown is the only card we have to play, our hand is weak. Republicans know that and will call our bluff. They will relish the chance to make Democrats the villain, and a cynical electorate will buy it. Voters trust Democrats right now. If we lose that trust on a gamble, that may cost us *real* leverage over policy like DACA and CHIP in 2019 because it cost us seats in the House and the Senate (where there is no room for error) in 2018.

  • tasam1

    Why would they shut down the government for illegal aliens.
    Congress – you don’t represent illegal aliens. Remember Congress and President Trump -These illegal aliens are DACA giftees not recipients. Obama gave them a gift of an illegal program that included social security cards, driver licenses, work permits, and deferred deportation.
    The DACAs are adults 20-36 years old. Only 32,000 of the 800,000 DACAs have a 4 year college degree and are the ones shown in the news articles and referred to by the politicians. Another 20% of the 800,000 or 160,000 dropped out of high school. Add to that another 160,000 that only completed high school or a GED and have no plans to go to college.
    These illegal aliens are competing with your children and grandchildren for jobs according to other articles.
    Enforce immigration laws. No amnesty. No citizenship. No work permits. Start deporting the illegal aliens/DACAs now.