Congress needs to act to reform America’s immigration laws, following President Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he is phasing out a program called DACA that allows 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain here temporarily.
The president was right to say it is up to Congress to determine whether these immigrants, known as Dreamers, should be allowed to stay in our country. He explained that the Constitution does not allow the president the power to unilaterally change immigration law by executive order.
Under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which was created by an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, the federal government allowed children brought to the U.S. in violation of the law to get permits so they could stay here legally for two years at a time, with the ability to renew their permits.
President Obama said he issued the executive order because Congress was deadlocked and couldn’t reach agreement to pass legislation to fix our badly broken immigration system.
Conservatives rightly assailed President Obama for assuming lawmaking jurisdiction, clearly usurping the constitutional authority of the Congress to pass laws.
Even more egregiously, Obama achieved nothing but talk regarding immigration reform when he entered office in 2009 with a solidly Democratic Congress. He instead waited for a politically opportune time before the 2012 election to waive his scepter like a king and pronounced DACA as an edict.
On the other side, many Hispanics and immigration advocates now correctly decry the threat of deportation facing Dreamers, who were brought to America by their parents and had no say in breaking our immigration laws.
Congress should show heart and smarts through a three-part law that would help the Dreamers and at the same give America a sound immigration policy that serves our nation’s best interests.
First, Congress must accede to the president’s insistence on a fully funded wall along our border with Mexico, which was clearly a foundational pillar of his 2016 victory. Our government has an obligation to secure our border.
Second, DACA should be turned from an unconstitutional executive order into a law. But is should also be phased out, so that no more immigrants can sign up for the program. It is one thing to allow people already protected by DACA to stay here. It is quite another to make this a permanent program that would incentivize never-ending violations of our immigration laws.
And third, the RAISE Act – supported by President Trump and sponsored by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sonny Perdue of Georgia – should be approved by Congress. The legislation would transform our present chain-migration system based on relatives already in this country to one based on skills, so that we welcome the best and brightest of the world who also love our values.
Paradoxically, it is President Trump – so roundly and unjustly maligned by the mainstream media as anti-Hispanic – who stands uniquely positioned now to achieve this substantive immigration reform, and on “America First” terms.
President Trump has, amazingly, largely secured our border only months into office and empowered U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement to accelerate the deportation of dangerous criminal illegal aliens.
At the same time, the president clearly aches for the predicament of the Dreamers themselves. So he is in the best position to achieve a long-awaited solution to their uncertain immigration status.
Many DACA residents know no other country, speak English as their primary language, work legally and raise children who are American-born.
I disagree with some of my Team Trump brethren who believe these 800,000 residents should be “returned to sender” to their birthplaces. In my view, they comprise a totally different category than adults who willfully broke our immigration laws.
So Congress, I hope you enjoyed the August break that you didn’t deserve. Now get to work!