A cruel twist for the nation’s young immigrants
Let’s be clear about what just happened to the program that shielded immigrants brought here as children from deportation.
The Trump administration, after the president feigned sympathy for so-called dreamers, announced Tuesday it is phasing out the program but giving Congress six months to come up with a substitute — a Congress that has been so dysfunctional it hasn’t been able to approve legislation with an iota of controversy.
For instance, “amnesty” is what critics label more recent immigration reform efforts. So, President Trump, in announcing this end, called it an “amnesty-first” program, also invoking the “rule of law.” And some cited the need to keep our communities safe.
But under what rule of law should children be held liable for the alleged lawbreaking of their parents? And there is absolutely no evidence that dreamers are threats to the community — quite the opposite.
This is what President Obama, though he had a deplorable deportation record generally, understood. This country has essentially been the only home these immigrants know. They’ve been educated at public expense in our schools. They are assets in which we’ve invested — to be nurtured, not deported.
This is why Obama started the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. It allowed an estimated 800,000 immigrants to gain work permits and other benefits. But in signing up for the program, they gave the government their personal information. So, imagine the fear that this immigrant is now feeling, though the administration says it will not specifically be targeting this community for deportation. However, it simultaneously stressed that they won’t necessarily be shielded from it either.
Some of the immigrants who got their work permits will be able to renew their two-year legal stays. This applies if their permits expire before March 5. But those whose permits expire March 6 and after will be deportable if Congress doesn’t act. And this, unfortunately, is the majority of that 800,000 who got the permits.
President Trump tried to distance himself from this decision, letting Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an immigration hardliner, do the heavy lifting in announcing it. But it comes on the heels of his pardon for Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who made his reputation targeting immigrants and Latinos. Got it? Children brought here by their parents and are now contributing to our society might get deported, but the sheriff who illegally targeted and detained Latinos received a pardon.
Trump owns this.
Our hope is that Congress surprises us on this. It must — led by Texas’ delegation.