DACA solution in hand, let the politics begin

January 28, 2018

DACA, a simple four letter acronym for a decades long mess that has anything but a simple situation.  Officially known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals it was announced with much fanfare from the White House Rose Garden by President Obama on June 15, 2012.

Facing a tough re-election campaign and after his broken 2008 promise to Jorge Ramos that “..what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting.” Mr. Obama was in desperate need to do something for the Hispanic caucus but what?

After numerous declarations that “I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair” and that “I can’t simply ignore laws”, Mr. Obama knew that unilateral executive action would be an extra Constitutional power grab based on precarious legal grounds.  But in the Obama administration it was only the end that mattered. The means could always be justified as long as that end was an electoral win.  And so the man who promoted himself as a Constitutional Law Professor did exactly that which he had sworn over and over that he did not have the legal authority to do.

All which brings us to the current “crisis” that is the “dreamers”.  Young adults who were brought here as children when their parents entered the country illegally.  Many place the blame on “Big Bad Racist Bigoted Trump” and his decision to end DACA last fall.  Many are also wrong.

The truth behind the hype is that there was a very real probability that legal challenges would prevail in federal court and DACA would be struck down as the illegal act Obama had so often told us it was.  The President’s decision at least gave six months for Congress to act, whereas the expected adverse court decision could have ended DACA immediately.

But as usual with Congress the issue got punted, punted and then punted again until in an act of political suicide Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats thought it a good idea to shut down the federal government over it.  An idea that left the issue still unresolved and the extremes on both sides dug in even deeper.

So what to do?

I agree that Dreamers are as American as any one of us, many maybe even more so.  But I will never agree that we should wave a magic wand and make them automatic citizens.

The “dreamer” title makes a nice soundbite but elevating one group above others is in Barack Obama’s own words “unwise and unfair”.

Enter a four step framework released by the White House Thursday afternoon.  It includes a trust fund for a border wall/security system, allows for legalization of up to approximately 1.8 million “dreamers”, (with a ten to twelve year path to citizenship), retains ability to sponsor spouses and minor children, and eliminates the visa lottery and reallocates those to “reduce the family-based backlog and high –skilled employment backlog”

The far left is already calling it racist and the far fright is screeching amnesty so there must be something good about it.

The truth is, neither the left nor the right will get their own “dream” policies.  The only way forward is compromise.  And from what I’ve seen of the White House plan so far it is a compromise that a majority of Americans could support.

It doesn’t magically “grant” citizenship but rather, like legal immigrants, earn said citizenship over time and with merit.  And most importantly it finally does what President Reagan was promised over 35 years ago: secures the border to protect future generations from having to repeat this fiasco.

Considering that it has both the far left and the far right ticked off before the ink’s even dry tells me there might just be something to it.

The first paragraph on the White House website immigration section states:

“The United States must adopt an immigration system that serves the national interest. To restore the rule of law and secure our border, President Trump is committed to constructing a border wall and ensuring the swift removal of unlawful entrants. To protect American workers, the President supports ending chain migration, eliminating the Visa Lottery, and moving the country to a merit-based entry system. These reforms will advance the safety and prosperity of all Americans while helping new citizens assimilate and flourish.”

The next few weeks will show us all which politicians really want to solve the problem and which ones just want an election talking point.   Here’s to hoping the former outnumber the latter.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE: A version of this column first appeared in the Sunday print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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