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Local dreamers and Nevada Politicians wait to see if DC can do a deal

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I met Anna Ledesma outside her morning breakfast spot to see what she thought of the shutdown debate grinding on in Washington.

“They’re playing like a political tug of war with people that they’re not really seeing in person. That’s why I actually just came from DC a couple days ago,” she said, telling me that she went to the Nation’s Capital to personally lobby lawmakers to allow people like her to stay in the country.

Ledesma has more at stake than most: she’s a local nurse and also a local “dreamer” one of the young people brought here as children by their undocumented parents years ago. She arrived here at 7 from the Philippines.

In Washington, Democrats want dreamers protected in any funding bill moving forward. Last fall, President Trump ended their Obama-era protection and gave Congress until March to figure something out. What to do about immigration and dreamers, is a sticking point in legislation that would keep the federal government funded past 9 p.m. our time on Friday, when it technically runs out of money.

RELATED | Senate schedules showdown vote for late Friday night on bill averting government shutdown

“Nobody wants to shut down the government, but I’ll tell you what,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, told me Friday from Washington. “I have spent my time here, and I think many of us, fighting for dreamers. Every single day 122 dreamers lose their status.”

Cortez Masto says in order for any deal to have her support, it has to do something for the estimated 800,000 dreamers nationwide, and the 13,000 here in Nevada.

“Definitely, dreamers have to be there, absolutely,” said Cortez Masto. “If it’s not there, I can tell you that, what’s sitting before us right now I can’t support. I can’t support it.”

What’s before Cortez Masto and her Senate colleagues is a House Republican plan that keeps the government funded until mid-February. It does not offer protections for dreamers, but it does offer six years of funding to keep the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) running, which in Nevada, provides health care to 40,000 low-income families.

Governor Brian Sandoval, R-Nevada, said, while he supports protections for young dreamers, he wants to Senate to approve the House measure because of the CHIP funding it includes. “I firmly believe pitting one group of children against another group of children in need doesn’t serve either,” said the Governor.

Senator Dean Heller, R-Nevada, says Democrats should vote to continue funding the government. “While I am disappointed that Congress has resorted to yet another short-term solution, I am even more disappointed that Senate Democrats continue to prevent this bill from receiving a vote and have blocked appropriations bills, which is the reason why we are in this position, to begin with,” Heller said.

Thursday, Nevada’s three Democrats in the House voted against the Republican short-term funding measure.

“House Republicans yet again failed that basic test of leadership by putting up a fourth short-term funding resolution that does not address our country’s long-term needs,” said Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada.

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