After all the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals drama, the brinkmanship in keeping the government funded (another deadline looms Thursday), and the hardball negotiating over immigration reform, know one thing: President Trump is singly responsible for stripping deportation protection from some 700,000 people who have been raised as Americans.
It is Trump, with his order last fall to end the protections extended by President Obama to give the Dreamers breathing room until Congress could fix their status.
Congress could and should fix it — in fact, it should have done this a long time ago.
A large majority of Americans, including Republicans, recognize that the Dreamers are in an immigration bind of their parents’ making, and that it would be unfair and inhumane to kick them out of the country in which they were raised. The vast majority of the Dreamers are law-abiding, productive members of society, and their ranks include doctors, priests and teachers as well as police, firefighters, and paramedics.
What possible public benefit comes from kicking these people out of the country now? In fact, ending DACA and withdrawing permission for the Dreamers to work could cost the economy from $200 billion to more than $400 billion, depending on whose estimate you buy.
As The Times’ editorial board has pointed out, this problem is fixable. But it has become a crisis for two reasons: Trump blew up the status quo by ending DACA, and Republican congressional leaders refuse to move a clean bill to resolve the Dreamers’ status.
Instead, they — following Trump’s lead — are using the Dreamers to push an immigration agenda that does not have enough political support to get through on its own.
Compromise is, indeed, the heart of the democratic process. But this isn’t an exercise in horse-trading — you give us X, we’ll give you Y — as much as it is a hostage-taking of the Dreamers.
There’s already a general consensus that the Dreamers deserve a reprieve. So deliver it, already.
But Trump isn’t negotiating — he’s moving the goal posts by larding up his demands for a wall and sharply reduced immigration numbers. When Trump ended DACA, he said it was up to Congress to take care of the issue. Congress should do just that: pass a clean DACA measure providing a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
And then it should turn to comprehensive immigration reform — humane, progressive, and economically sound reform that will resolve the status of the 11 million people who, despite not having a legal right to be here, have become part of our neighborhoods and communities.
There is a lot to discuss, and a lot of positions to bridge. But there’s already a general consensus that the Dreamers deserve a reprieve. So deliver it, already.
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11:13 a.m.: This article was updated to clarify status of 11 million immigrants living here without authorization.