Life is but a DREAM

Should Congress rescue DACA?

By Sarah Sidlow

DACA—you may have heard that recently. It stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It’s an Obama-era plan that answers the question, what should we do with undocumented migrants who come to the United States as children? DACA grants those who qualify temporary protection from deportation. It covers about 800,000 young adults, also giving them the ability to work and go to school in the United States.

DACA is available for individuals known as DREAMers (an acroynym for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) who came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday and comply with a long list of stringent rules, including having a clean criminal record and obtaining a certificate of completion from high school or something comparable.

As it turns out, President Trump isn’t a fan of Obama’s work. And he’s ordered an end to the program. According to the New York Times, some of those DREAMers could become eligible for deportation as early as March 2018.

The Department of Homeland Security has stopped processing any new applications for the program, though the Trump administration has announced a plan to continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months. Now, the ball is in Congress’ court to come up with the “least disruptive” solution to the illegal immigration problem. No pressure.

For many, Congress is where this should have started in the first place. Some vocal California Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, argue that it’s Obama’s fault for creating DACA in the first place. This, they claim, was a gross overstepping of the role of the president—not to mention a blatant disregard for immigration laws (see also: the argument against sanctuary cities).

Yet, Trump’s announcement about overhauling DACA didn’t go over so well with everyone.

Hundreds of tech leaders co-signed a letter titled “Leaders of American Industry on DACA,” calling on Trump to preserve the DACA program. Signatories included Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Box CEO Aaron Levie, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Hewlett CEO Meg Whitman, some pages list Meg Whitman as CEO, some list Dion Weisler as successor Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Sam Altman of Y Combinator.

Their argument, and the argument of many, is that DREAMers have contributed a lot to tech advances in this country. They’ve also contributed, like, 0 percent of crime.

Then there’s the money issue: According to Fortune magazine, the United States could lose an average of 30,000 lost jobs every month, totaling a $460.3 billion loss in economic output over the next decade. And then there’s the Medicare and Social Security contributions DREAMers put in: about $24.6 billion.

The last word: When asked about his DACA decision by a member of the press, Trump said, “I think it’s going to work out very well.”

Reach Dayton City Paper forum moderator Sarah Sidlow at SarahSidlow@DaytonCityPaper.com.


Question of the Week: Should Congress rescue DACA?


Trump and DACA

Trump puts DACA question back in the hands of Congress

By David H. Landon

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration provided Congress with a chance to actually do its job. Donald Trump has given Congress the chance to make immigration law the right way, through thoughtful legislation rather than allowing the issue to be decided by overreaching executive orders of questionable legality. Trump has rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order (an Obama-era executive order put in place to protect illegal youths from deportation known as DACA).  Analysis of the Obama DACA executive order by most legal experts concluded that Obama’s plan was an overreach of Presidential authority. Now Congress has a six-month window to fix comprehensive immigration once and for all, including relief for the young illegals brought into the country by their parents and known as DREAMers.

There are at least four bills to deal with DREAMers presently circulating in Congress. One bill provides immigrants that have been vetted by the Department of Homeland Security with three pathways toward legalization: higher education, service in the armed forces or work authorization. Following a 5-year conditional status, these immigrants would be able to reapply for a 5-year permanent status. At the end of their permanent status — after a total of 10 years, DREAMers could apply for citizenship. Questions remain of what type of crimes uncovered in the vetting process would disqualify the applicant. There also will be additional fines and taxes to pay in order to qualify.

The decision to rescind the Obama executive order is a smart political move for Trump. Many of the approximately 800,000 young immigrants have been law abiding visitors and have demonstrated a desire to take advantage of the opportunities offered by this country. Most are here through no fault of their own as their parents brought them illegally into this country. Trump realized that it would be extremely difficult to round up these illegals and send them back to a country they have never known. Mass deportations of DREAMers will not happen – it is simply not logistically possible, and it is not what the Trump Administration has called for. He has indicated his support for a legislative solution to this issue.  So in effect by granting a path to a legal status, he has negotiated away something he was already planning to do. It remains to be seen what he will get in return. If you suspect some form of the wall, you will be proven correct.

Attorney General Sessions described the government’s next steps. He stated, “The Department of Justice has advised the President and the Department of Homeland Security that DHS should begin an orderly, lawful wind down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program. I believe they can find legislative solutions that strengthen America, recognize our proud immigrant tradition, keep the economy strong, and keep our citizens safe and our borders secure. The core elements of President George W. Bush’s immigration reform proposals, for example, met those goals through effective border security, a functioning and humane guest worker program, and a pathway to earned legal status for the undocumented.” No reason to panic here.

Voters, in turn, will punish those who mishandle this moment. It Congress chooses to demagogue this issue instead of solving it, the voters will see it as a political betrayal. Each side needs to give and compromise. The left has to accept that we will secure our borders with some form of wall as every nation on earth has the right to do. The anti-immigration folks will have to accept that giving legal status to the DREAMers who are minors will give some type of legal status to their parents who broke the law by bringing them here in the first place. The American voter’s desire for solutions is why Donald Trump was elected president. Americans are weary of political posturing.

In November 1998, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued a five year old boy attempting to escape from Cuba on an inner tube three miles off the coast of Florida. His mother drowned during the trip and over the next several months the issue of his legal custody fought between his father in Cuba and his Florida family was litigated in the U.S. Courts.   On April 22, 1999, in a pre-dawn raid, armed U.S. federal agents seized 5 year old Elian Gonzalez from the home of his Miami relatives to return the child to Cuba.  A photo of the young Elian as he was discovered hiding in the bedroom in his uncle’s arms with federal agent pointing his weapon at the boy was in every newspaper. Although the federal government was legally correct, the optics were terrible and public opinion ravaged the Clinton Administration for sending young Elias to Cuba.

Imagine this scenario playing out 800,000 times when the six month moratorium by President Trump on ending of the Obama Executive Order runs out. I am predicting that neither the President nor Congress wants to relive some version of the Elian Gonzalez catastrophy.

America is the “great lifeboat” We have room for more people to come aboard and many want to come onboard. However, a sovereign nation must have the right to say how many newcomers can come onto the lifeboat and what process they must follow. To believe otherwise is to guarantee the lifeboat will eventually sink.

David H. Landon is the former Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee. He can be reached at DaveLandon@DaytonCityPaper.com.


Get back in line, and no cuts

DACA broke the rules to reward those who broke the rules

by Ron Kozar

Congress should not grant amnesty to anyone who got here illegally, regardless of age.  Doing so would reward lawbreaking, betray the law-abiding, and make a mockery of law in general.

For forty years, amnesties and failures to enforce have turned our immigration laws into a scandalous joke.  At the butt-end of that joke are the lawful immigrants who wait for years, submitting applications, paying fees, and respecting our laws.  When people who sneak into the theatre are allowed to stay and watch the movie, those who are standing in line in the rain waiting to buy tickets should feel like suckers.  That is why Democratic and Republican Congresses alike have repeatedly refused since 2001 to pass the DREAM bill.  And that is why they should keep refusing.

But relying on Congress to make laws is old-hat.  America officially became a banana republic in 2012 when, despite Congress’s refusal, Obama enacted his own DREAM Act, namely DACA.  His royal proclamation to that effect said, despite laws to the contrary, that he would issue work permits to people who were 16 or younger when they illegally entered our country.  Everyone agrees that Obama acted illegally with DACA.  Even Obama himself admitted he had no such power.  Here, for example, is one of dozens of quotes from Chairman O before he changed his mind and threw legality to the winds:

With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed.  For me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.

But why fuss over legality and democratic procedure when big-eyed, innocent children are at stake?  The DREAMers for whose sake Obama bent the book, the City Paper assures us, work, pay taxes, and commit “like, zero percent of crime.”  Excuse me, but how can they hold jobs?  Hiring someone who is not here legally is itself illegal.  And how do these supposedly law-abiding pillars of society fill in the box on the form that asks about their lawful residency when they apply for driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, or when they complete those IRS papers on the first day of work?  You’ve seen those forms.  They’re the ones with scary warnings about signing under penalty of perjury.  Since 2012, DREAMers have been able to point to the very work permits that Obama illegally gave them.  But what did they point to before then?  How could any DACA beneficiary have signed those forms without committing a crime?  Consider too the age at which they made their illegal entry.  Some, no doubt, were babies or toddlers who had to be carried.  The teenagers, however, snuck in on their own power.  In many cases, the illegal crossing was their own idea.

So it is that a witch’s brew of illegality by border-jumping parents, by lawless presidents, and by DREAMers themselves have created the predicament that now supposedly cries out for congressional action.  Because they’ve been here illegally for so long, some of them look, sound, and smell as American as apple pie.  Therefore, the argument goes, it would be inhumane not to let them stay, all 800,0000 of them.  And, of course, their parents, since some DREAMers are still children.  And their older siblings, too, since we can’t go breaking up families.  And…well, we’ll stop there.  For now.

The moral logic requiring this latest amnesty seems to be that if people break the law and get away with it long enough, enforcing the laws they broke would be just too mean.  In some cases, enforcement might well require a tough hide.  But that shouldn’t matter.  The lady holding the scales of justice is supposed to wear a blindfold, applying the law equally to both the ugly and sweaty on the one hand and the sympathetic on the other.  As Justice Sutherland said in 1934,  if laws “be not upheld when they pinch as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned.”

That said, no one is talking about sending DREAMers to jail.  Enforcing the law would mean merely sending them back to Mexico, where they would enjoy every emolument of citizenship.  Mexico is not perdition.  It has air conditioning, indoor plumbing, and even TV and the internet.  Things are nice enough there that people routinely try to enter Mexico illegally from Guatemala, though Mexico enforces its southern border more faithfully than Obama and his predecessors ever enforced ours.  Mexico does not have a DREAM Act.

After returning to Mexico, if any DREAMers want to enter the US, let them do so, or try to, the same way people from the rest of the world must do.  Let them do it legally.  Let them get back in line and wait their turn.

Ron Kozar is a lawyer in Dayton. Reach him at RonKozar@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Sarah Sidlow
Reach DCP editor Sarah Sidlow at SarahSidlow@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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