With a plethora of possible rants to choose from — hurricanes, North Korea and tax reform among them — today I have chosen immigration, primarily because of President Trump’s announcement that he would phase out the DACA program initiated by President Obama. Now many of you may not even know to what this latest government and media acronym refers. Let me enlighten you.
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It mandates a Department of Homeland Security administrative function. Implemented during the Obama presidency, it allows children that were brought to the United States by undocumented immigrants to be given a two-year renewable deferment and the possibility of a work permit. It was an effort to right a terrible wrong against children.
The understanding was that children had no choice in their immigration to the U.S. Their parents brought them whether they wanted to come or not. Now, after living decades in the United States, only their nation of birth keeps them from declaring themselves full and complete United States citizens. It’s sort of like living with a stepdad your entire life. Mr. What’sHisName planted the seed, but your Daddy is what grew ya’. As far as the immigrant children are concerned, Daddy is family. Mr. What’sHisName is some unknown stranger. Hell, you probably don’t even speak What’sHisName’s language.
But our antiquated immigration laws declared that those years with Daddy held no bearing on your loyalties. Mr. What’sHisName, whom you have never seen, lived with nor spoken with, was the sole decider of your Familia. You know, Daddy ain’t your Daddy. He’s just a placeholder. So, DACA was initiated as an administrative function of the Department of Homeland Security. It wasn’t an Executive Order. It wasn’t a law enacted by Congress. It wasn’t even funded by American taxpayers. Financing was provided through the fees paid by those who applied for the deferment.
Nice solution. No harm, no foul, no cost. Applicants had to have been brought by their families. You had to be under the age of 16 in 2007 to apply and a plethora of regulations ensured no crooks, criminals or social deviants were admitted. Plus, you had to reapply every two years to ensure you continue to be a good, contributing member of society. We keep the best of the crop and send the rest packing.
Why is this a “bad” thing?
Well, 26 governors, all Republicans, 20 of whom have no immigration problem, said it was. Didn’t matter that this program followed an outline of immigration reform designed by the Gang of Eight and passed by the Republican Senate in 2013. Didn’t matter that John Boehner didn’t bring it up in the House the same year even though whip counts indicated it would pass. Didn’t matter that it only affected children and teens who were, through no fault of their own, already here and full-fledged members of our society. No. It’s “bad” because the Obama administration violated the Constitution, because Obama by-passed Congress. You know, that same do-nothing, obstructionist Congress that passed Obamacare repeal 57 times and shut down the United States government.
So, off to court we go again. An injunction was sought and granted, but that only prevented expansion of the program. And by a divided court at that. You know, the Supreme Court with only eight members because Republicans wouldn’t act on the nomination of a new Justice to fill a vacancy. The resulting 4-4 tie left the original program in doubt.
Now, with their newly minted conservative Justice and Republican President, the court and Congress is set to answer this liberal assault against the U.S. Constitution. Forget that this will impact over 800,000 children and young adults. Forget that Republicans in Congress allowed President Obama to implement this program because they couldn’t pass wind. Forget that Republicans could have avoided all of this and saved the youngest among us all the stress and worry if they would do their damn job! No. To the barricades! We must protect our Constitution, or at least our interpretation of the Constitution, from those liberal-leaning socialists!
So here we sit, using children and young adults in a game of political football. The result is an embarrassing shame. What makes this so frustrating is that there are 321 million people in the United States. Only 5.2 million of them are actually Native Americans. The rest of us, all of us, are immigrants or the children of immigrants. If it weren’t for immigrants, there would be no United States, no Constitution, no freedom. To deny immigrants entry into our country is to deny ourselves.
What’s worse to my mind is that illegal immigration has been flat since 2009. An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are currently in the U.S. That’s the same as in 2009. What this means is that, besides being a red herring issue fed to the masses to stoke unfounded fears, new illegal immigrants aren’t coming. Those who are here have been here, most of them for decades. We have become a nation that few wish to risk sacrificing everything to achieve. We are losing our status as a place of dreams and opportunities. We are choking off our own life blood.
As for those who still insist that illegal immigration is taking jobs away from hard-working Americans, I refer you to the recent jobs reports in Businessweek that showed crops rotting in the fields, farms failing and small businesses closing, all for the lack of immigrant labor. The vaunted white workforce refuses to apply. Jobs are plentiful, even with undocumented immigrants. Eight million “illegals” work in the United States, most of them in farming and construction. Yet, unemployment remains at less than 4.4%, typically defined as full employment.
Illegal immigration is an old song with a really bad score. The only ones who continue to sing it are those who want to pull up the drawbridge after they themselves have safely crossed. Instead of holding children hostage to legislative inadequacies, let’s insist Congress do its job and fix the problem. Placing blame is easy, but it is also an excuse. Let’s relight the flame of freedom and opportunity and welcome all to our shores. Let’s know what is important and what isn’t. And remember, as we walk through this shame, the party you choose and your vote for that party matters. It matters a great deal.