It looks like there is a good chance the Supreme Court will rule with the Trump Administration to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This program provides somewhere between 600,000 to 800,000 young immigrants brought into the country illegally as minors with protection from deportation.
Does the end of DACA set the stage for implementing real immigration reform?
Congress dabbled with providing a way for illegal immigrants to improve their status for years. The DREAM Act ( short for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) first appeared in 2001. Over the next 11 years versions showed up in the house and the senate but were never reconciled or passed. Estimates say as many as 2.7 million people would have qualified for the DREAM Act. DACA was implemented by an executive order by President Obama in 2012 as a way to protect those people from deportation. It required registration with the government and these are now the people of DACA. They represent only a third of the total people who could be qualified.
Is It Racism?
How much of our immigration policies are driven by racism? As a country we have faced it before and still do. At different times Catholics, Jews, Italians, Irish, Blacks, Muslims, Mormons etc. faced (and still face) hatred by citizens of the US. A portion of the population fears change that comes when new groups are added to our society. They fear their way of life will be overwhelmed by the introduction of people who are different from themselves.
Illegal Immigrants as Political Pawns:
Each political party has used immigration to their advantage as election topic but still only pay lip service to addressing the issues. Even if you eliminate the options of a bipartisan solutions, each party has had the opportunity to get something done over the last 30 years while they had full control of the administration and congress but they chose not to give it serious attention. Democrats forced through the Affordable Care Act. Republicans forced through a massive tax cut. Neither party addressed immigration. They need to be pushed to fix immigration.
Congress just doesn’t have the political will to address it.
While congress collects their paychecks and spends up to 75% of their time raising money from special interests, their lack of action on immigration issues are compounding. The country is reaching a very real flash point posting active military personnel and equipment on American soil stopping caravans of immigrants on our border. Congress has been able to tap dance around taking real action.
Why isn’t Congress Working Right Now?
Why isn’t congress coming up with a plan right now to deal with immigration? If the Supreme Court strikes down DACA without a new set of laws for current illegal immigrants there could be ciaos. Why don’t we force congress into negotiations and don’t let them out until they get it done? There may not be easy answers but that is what we elect congress to do — address tough issues and implement what is best for our country. Why would congress allow the administration to change the 14th Amendment to the constitution with the stroke of a pen?
Immigration impacts everyone.
Depending on where you live in the country your experience and opinions on immigration will be different. Even if you don’t see it directly your life is impacted by illegal immigration. Odds are the food you eat, services you use or products you buy have been produced with some illegal immigrant labor. No one knows for sure how many people are in the country illegally. Years of congressional neglect have added to the issue.
If you live in a southern border state the schools, law enforcement and medical services in your area are impacted by immigrant families. While statistics say immigrants are less likely to be involved in a crime, there are crimes. Illegal immigration has allowed an industry of human smuggling and human trafficking to flourish. An underground population of people subject to deportation allows the crime and abuses to continue. These people are not able to cooperate with law enforcement without being subject to deportation. Organized crime grows. People covered under DACA are subject to deportation after multiple promises of a path to citizenship. There are employers who take advantage of an illegal workforce to boost their profits. How much financial assistance if any should an immigrant receive from the government? The list of issues goes on.
Refugee versus Illegal immigrant
The ability to qualify for refugee status is a moving target. International treaties and law have guidelines that should be followed. The process is only simplified if you have enough money to work your way through the system. You can essentially buy citizenship with a $500,000 “EB5” investment, one of the most mismanaged government programs in the country. Businesses in this country are looking to hire and need more help than is often available in their area. It seems like there are some jobs that Americans don’t want to do that are filled immigrants.
A History of Immigrants, a Future of ?
Mixed into the issue is our history as a country of immigrants. Unless you are an American Indian your family immigrated here. The country has struggled with prejudices on immigration since it was formed. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were crafted by immigrants. Amendments we added to reflect the changing needs of the country and ratified by the states. The 14th amendment guarantees birthright citizenship. The Trump Administration has suggested eliminating this amendment.
Sanctuary cities came to be when those citizens felt the current law did not reflect their values. It should be the responsibility of Congress to address these issues.
Congress failed to fully fund the wall, immigration courts, ICE, tracking immigrants and many other aspects of immigration. Local law enforcement has no budget to deal with illegal immigrants. There is no plan for 800,000 people covered by DACA or the rest of the 2.7 million DREAMERS.