President Trump has made the decision to reverse the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA program), putting more than three-quarters of a million young people at risk for deportation.
So how did we get to this point? In 2001 Congress introduced the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, known widely as the DREAM Act, to assist individuals who met specific requirements and gave them the opportunity to enlist in the military or go to college to have a path to citizenship. This Act has failed to pass Congress after many attempts.
Former President Obama announced on June 15, 2012, that his administration would no longer deport illegal immigrants who matched certain criteria outlined in the proposed DREAM Act. From 2012 to 2017, about 800,000 people have registered through DACA, giving them a reprieve from deportation.
To deport these people who have lived as Americans is wrong and places yet another racist stain on America. Have we not learned from slavery, from the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, and from the Trail of Tears when we forced the removal of Native Americans from their ancestral homelands?
This is not the America we believe in. Americans don’t punish children for an act over which they had no control. The DREAMERS were raised in America, and many have completed their education, they serve in our armed forces and they contribute to the mosaic that is America.
U.S Sen. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, said it best: “We as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.” He went on to say, “We must confront the nation’s out-of-date immigration policy.” We agree. Our elected leaders have to enact laws that are humane and respectful of children whose parents brought them to the United States.
“President Trump’s decision to end DACA should break the hearts and offend the morals of all who believe in justice and human dignity,” said U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California. “This cruel act of political cowardice deals a stunning blow to the bright young Dreamer’s and to everyone who cherishes the American Dream.”
Let’s be clear. The president is catering to his base with the ending of DACA and the six-month delay; yet he is right to challenge Congress to take on this tough legislation and do the right thing. A critical question is:” What happens at the end of the six-month period if Congress fails to pass legislation on this important issue?”
The stakes are high and this Congress has yet to pass any significant legislation since Trump’s inauguration. The president has said he “loves the dreamers” and yet has made this decision to end DACA and create great anxiety for people who deserve a definitive decision on their future.
We don’t argue that there is accountability on both sides. But we strongly believe that the president and Congress need to show leadership and not play political football with the lives of people who have and, if given the opportunity, will continue to contribute to the greatness of America.