Dreamers Are Essential To America’s Future

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Dreamers Are Essential To America’s Future

 

by Reed Anfinson
Publisher, Swift County Monitor-News

 

With Congress unable to pass immigration legislation that ensured children who have been brought here as infants or very young children would not be deported after growing up in America, President Obama acted on his own in 2012. He issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, executive order that protects them from deportation.

Conservative Republicans called Obama’s DACA executive order extreme presidential overreach and unconstitutional.

Now hardline anti-immigration members of Congress and state officials in deep red Republicans states want DACA erased. Eleven Republican state attorneys general threatened to file suit to end DACA if Trump wouldn’t do it by executive order. They want Trump to live up to his campaign promise to rescind DACA on “day one” of his presidency.

But as Trump has been educated on who these young people are and how they got here, as well as the contributions they make to our economy and society, his position evolved. Back in April, he told the Associated Press that they could “rest easy” on his backing of their status in the U.S. His administration was “not after the Dreamers, we are after the criminals,” he said.

It is estimated there are 800,000 young people in America today, children of illegal immigrants, who are protected by DACA. These young people are often referred to as “Dreamers.”

In 2001, Utah Republican Sen. Orin Hatch and Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin introduced the Dream Act aimed at giving children of immigrants conditional residency and an eventual path to citizenship.

The bill was opposed by hardline anti-immigrant members of Congress and failed to pass. Five times over the years it has passed the Senate only to die in the House. The last time was in 2010.

Today, the pending states’ lawsuit against DACA, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ declaration that he would not defend Obama’s executive order, put Trump in the position of having to do something.

Trump’s solution is to propose a six-month delay to give Congress a chance to come up with a plan to protect the Dreamers. It may also be that he wants the Republican-controlled Congress to share the blame, and heat, that would come their party’s way should they end DACA with nothing to protect the Dreamers from deportation.

There is broad pubic support in America for allowing Dreamers to stay here. Business leaders say they are essential to their success. “We’re also calling on Congress to finally pass the Dream Act or another permanent, legislative solution that Dreamers deserve,” wrote Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. “These young people represent the future of our country and our economy.” CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Best Buy, Ikea and Kaiser Permanente, all employ Dreamers and want them protected, The Washington Post reports.

Because their parents entered the country illegally they had no documents for themselves or their children. A child who was an infant when brought across the border may have gone on to graduate from high school, serve in the military – including a tour in a war zone, come home and graduate from college, and now could be working as an engineer or doctor - but is still considered undocumented. He or she likely has known no other country. This is home. Yet, this young person would be subject to deportation if Trump rescinded DACA.

This young Dreamer is as American as anyone of us who is a second, third or fourth generation child of immigrants. Because their children were born here, Dreamers’ children have automatic citizenship. Dreamers should not be made to live in daily fear that their families will be ripped apart by immigration agents. Dreamers deserve citizenship.

If Trump announces a six-month delay before ending DACA he must continue to assure the Dreamers that they will not lose their protected status prior to Congress working out a solution. That means those whose two-year DACA status is expiring while Congress works on an immigration law can renew their status.

Unfortunately, we must have faith that Congress will act in the best interests of the Dreamers, but faith in the institution is extremely low these days for good reason. We know that Trump and the immigration hardliners could use the Dreamers as a bargaining chip to implement harsh new immigration laws. Two Republican senators have proposed cutting the number of immigrants, legal and illegal, who come to this country in half.  They are adamantly against anything that looks like amnesty for being here illegally though the Dreamers were brought here as children. Trump wants funding for his wall.

House Speaker Republican Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both have expressed sympathy for Dreamers and have urged Trump to not overturn DACA until Congress can come up with a law to replace it. However they face splitting their caucuses between hardliners and moderates. That will mean working with Democrats to get legislation passed.

Dreamers are essential to America’s economy, Minnesota’s economy and Swift County’s economy. Employers are desperate for people to fill the vacancies they have. Immigrants, and Dreamers, are America’s future.
 

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