President Trump didn’t even have the decency to do his own dirty work.
As expected, the administration announced Tuesday the end of DACA, the program that protected from deportation 800,000 young adults brought to this country as children by parents who came, or stayed, illegally. The president left it up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to break the shameful news to the nation.
The legal status offered to the DREAMers, created by President Obama, will disappear in six months. At that time, they will become eligible for deportation.
Sessions, playing fast and loose with the facts, said that DACA was a “unilateral executive amnesty.”
It was anything but. In 2012 the Editorial Board said: “The change in policy does not even amount to an executive order, and it stops far short of providing a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants brought to this country as minors by their parents. It doesn’t offer the coveted “green card” or federal financial aid for education, but rather provides an avenue of redress. … ”
Sessions also said that DACA “contributed to a wave of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that produced terrible humanitarian consequences.”
What he conveniently didn’t say is that those unaccompanied minors at the Mexican border — mostly from Central America — were not lured to the United States by DACA. Rather, their parents wanted to protect them from drugs and gang violence.
The news sparked demonstrations across the country — and an unusual tweet from Obama, who called Trump’s order, “cruel” and “wrong.” Clear, and correct.
Now Congress, long too fractured and timid to tackle immigration reform, has until March to come to the DREAMers’ rescue. Leading Republicans vowed to act, although they have failed to do so on 10 previous legislative attempts.
They need to strike a deal this time. The young people Trump would eject have good jobs or are studying and are contributing to the lifeblood of this country.
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he will seek an agreement with Trump and Senate leaders to pass a law to help some undocumented immigrants.
Trump’s DACA reversal sets the stage for high-stakes negotiations. Right now, senior congressional Republicans are willing to work with Democrats to rescue the DREAMers. But there is a big catch. The carrot of preserving the DACA program gives Republicans leverage to get funding next year for the president’s plan to expand the border wall.
The DREAMers can’t become pawns of the president’s benighted push for a wall. Democrats would have to swallow hard to accept that deal — and they shouldn’t. Not when most undocumented land here in airplanes. Not when illegal border crossing is now a trickle. But the unholy proposal offers the framework to start negotiating a more palatable agreement — enhanced border security, perhaps. It’s a starting point.
Congress has six months to find a way to speed the DREAMers along the path to becoming documented. It can reach a just and humane solution to save them from being deported from this country, which, for all intents and purposes, is their country, too.