Stillwater, NY - Imagine for a moment that after March 5, 2018 you could lose your job. Imagine that after March 5, you could lose your driver’s license. Imagine that after March 5, men and women dressed in black armor and carrying guns could come and force you from your home, then send you to a country you have never known.

Of course they know exactly where you live because you registered with the government years ago, in good faith. Now that act of good faith may be the very decision that causes the end of everything you have worked for. What does that feel like? How would that affect your daily life knowing that in less than two months everything you hold dear might be taken from you at the point of a gun? What would the stress and fear be doing to you? How hard would it be to pay attention in class, or perform at your job? How would it feel to turn on the television and hear political leaders and pundits describe your situation as “not an urgent issue?”

This is what 800,000 young people across our country are feeling today as the federal government votes to extend the terror, stress, and uncertainty they are dealing with by another 17 agonizing days with no guarantee that they will come to the only just, moral, and rational solution decision regarding their situation: that the Dreamers can stay.

In public policy there are very few situations in which there is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. This is one of the few exceptions. Opinions on immigration reform and border security vary and there are compelling arguments on all sides. When it comes to the dreamers however, who are Americans in every way that matter except on paper, there is a clear choice. We as citizens through our elected officials have the power to fix the “on paper” issue and we must do so.

Now I’m no fan of brinkmanship, manufactured crises, and dysfunction in government. But I cannot stand by and accept a Republican led government using children's healthcare, pay for our armed service members, and the threat of deporting 800,000 young Americans as show pieces in a cynical act of political theater. All of this just to stir up energy in an irrational, cruel, and racist base of the Republican party before the 2018 midterms.

The Dream Act was first introduced in 2001. It has been debated for the last 17 years. What is going to change in the next 17 days?

This is why, if I were a duly elected member of the 115th Congress of these United States representing the people of New York’s 21st District, my vote would be no on the continuing resolution.

It’s time to stop the dysfunction, immaturity, and procrastination in Washington. It’s time to pass the Dream Act, fund CHIP for a full 10 years, provide for disaster relief, provide treatment for addicts, and give our armed services certainty in their funding by passing a damn budget instead of continuing resolutions that keep our government running just weeks away from another potential shutdown. The Republican party had the ability to pass a budget with 51 votes under reconciliation, but instead they used that measure to give a $1.5 Trillion kickback to their campaign donors out of the public treasury. What good will reopening the government for 17 days do if that government doesn’t work?

Now it appears the government will be opening. It’s time for Congresswoman Stefanik, Speaker Ryan, Leader McConnell and the rest of the Republicans in Washington to stop pandering to a small, but loud racist minority in their party and get back to the work of governing. They have 17 days to pass a clean bill that provides certainty for Dreamers, funds CHIP, and is not another continuing resolution. They must work to pass a bill in the House this time that can get the support of all 51 Republican Senators and at least 9 Independents and Democrats. That is the challenge of governing. The Republican Party now has a second chance to prove to the American people that they are up to that challenge.   

-Patrick Nelson

Patrick Nelson