President Donald Trump has decided to punish between 700,000 and 800,000 young men and women. Punish them for what? Well, for having brown skin and for obeying their parents. Yesterday’s action by the president was so cruel and specious that he lacked the courage to announce it himself.
Handoff to the AG
Instead, he left it to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man whose words and actions throughout his career paint the picture of a public servant who is not inclined to value anyone but those who are white and native-born.
Sessions, seemingly with great delight, proclaimed, “The Department of Justice has advised the president and the Department of Homeland Security that the Department of Homeland Security should begin an orderly lawful wind down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program…”
He, risibly, went on to say, “The compassionate thing to do is end the lawlessness, enforce our laws, and if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so through the process set forth by our founders, in a way that advances the interest of the American people.”
This is Their Country, Too
This decision to pass the buck to Congress is both cruel and shortsighted. These young men and women were only children when their parents brought them to the United States.
This is the only country they have known, and by most accounts, they have grown up to be exemplary Americans. They have demonstrated a commitment to this country and, in fact, might have a better understanding of the nation’s founding principles than many who are native-born.
And, they are contributing to rebuilding America’s economy. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, 97 percent of them are either in the workforce or in school, and those DACA youth with jobs are paying both income tax and Social Security taxes. Business leaders across the country know first hand that these young people are making valuable contributions to our nation.
Response from Business Leaders
More that 450 of them have signed a joint letter to the president, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stating that “Our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions,” if the DACA children lose their status.
In the letter they called “on President Trump to preserve the DACA program. (And), we call on Congress to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act or legislation that provides these young people raised in our country the permanent solution they deserve.”
The conservative business lobbying group, US Chamber of Commerce made the following statement with regard to scrapping the program, “To reverse course now and deport these individuals is contrary to fundamental American principles and the best interests of our country. With Approximately 700,000 DACA recipients working for all sorts of businesses across the country, terminating their employment eligibility runs contrary to the president’s goal of growing the U.S. economy.”
This is a Moral Issue
Yes, DACA is good for business and the economy. But that fact, for me, is secondary. The most important point is that the program is a just and moral response to protecting children and young adults who are Americans in every sense but legal.
The political crisis we now find ourselves in was not caused by the DACA youth. The fault lies with the adults who were elected to lead the nation, but who have seemingly abandoned good judgment, compassion and moral integrity.
The problem can be easily solved by these elected “leaders”: have the courage to resurrect the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate by a super majority in the last Congress but was never brought to a vote in the House of Representatives. Put aside fear of alienating alt-right Trump supporters, reintroduce the bill and pass it.
To do otherwise is to punish innocent young people for the alleged sins of their parents, and for years of Congressional neglect.