House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) may have been expecting applause during her press conference in San Francisco on Monday, having recently laid the foundation of a deal with President Donald Trump to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
However, a group of angry protesters who called themselves "undocumented youth" ended up chasing her off the stage with chants of "We are not bargaining chips" and "All of us or none of us!"
According to The Washington Post, the approximately 40 protesters were frustrated with the unspecified increased border security attached to the deal, a clear sign that this is a tenuous compromise and not, in their words, a "clean bill." They also called for Pelosi and her colleagues to work to pass legislation protecting not just Dreamers who stand to benefit from DACA, but all undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
"First you said you supported a clean Dream Act," they said. "And last week you announced that you had agreed and I quote you, ‘To work out a package of border security.’ Your words. Or were you misquoted? We cannot say, however, that we are surprised."
They also pointed out that the Obama administration was responsible for deporting hundreds of thousands of people, making it clear that the Democratic Party is as much a threat to the undocumented as Republicans.
Aides of Pelosi's told The Washington Post that the protesters were from the progressive group RISE, volunteer caregiving group Faith In Action, and immigrant rights organization California Youth Immigrant Justice Alliance. Their sentiments were echoed by lawmakers last week when Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) first announced that they had met with Trump to reach a deal to protect Dreamers.
“I remember when issues of immigration were first filtered through, checked in with us. And I don’t see that,” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, told Politico. “There is a slippery slope here that I see beginning to appear."
“If what we’re going to do is address DACA, we ought to do that on its own and we ought to address border security on its own," said Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas).
Pelosi has called for those in her party to embrace their success and the nearly 700,000 lives it will save, which is certainly no small accomplishment. Still, in a climate of heightened bigotry fueled by a president scapegoating undocumented immigrants, the compromise leaves an inevitably bad taste.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) warned Pelosi and Schumer to "exercise extreme caution" as they move forward with this deal, saying that he didn't like its "starting point." What constitutes Trump and the GOP's definition of increased border security is a big unknown, and it's not baseless to assume Republican leadership will push for as strong a measure as possible.
"Details matter,” explained Angel Padilla, policy director of the left-wing resistance group Indivisible, to Politico. “We don’t want to see Dreamers being used as bargaining chips, and that’s kind of what this is."
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters photographer Joshua Roberts