The move was expected, anticipated, feared, promised, scaled back, protested, begged for, hoped for, and scorned. President Donald Trump’s administration today signaled a certain end to President Barack Obama’s executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
The 2012 executive order deferred the deportation of illegal aliens who came to the US during a certain time period as minor children. Although immigration reform is needed, Congress has, for many years and several administrations, failed to pass any meaningful reform. The president said he would delay the ending of the program for six months so he could give Congress time to act, but that might not be enough time. And anyway, given recent failures of the legislative branch to pass meaningful reforms, the future of about 800,000 illegal aliens, many of them now students in our schools, hangs in the balance.
“The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws—this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend,” Mr Trump said. “Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans.”
Although an estimated 65,000 of these DACA kids graduate from US high schools every year, he added that typical beneficiaries of the program are in their 20s.
“Our enforcement priorities remain unchanged. We are focused on criminals, security threats, recent border-crossers, visa overstays, and repeat violators. I have advised the Department of Homeland Security that DACA recipients are not enforcement priorities unless they are criminals, are involved in criminal activity, or are members of a gang.”
Mr President, I hate to tell you, but each of us probably commits three felonies or other “criminal activity” before we get all the way to work in the morning, each and every day. To target DACA kids who are involved in criminal activity is hopeless as well, given that they’re in the country illegally in the first place. These words, possibly chosen casually, offer no comfort.
The bottom line is that it’s heartless to end this program. Many DACA recipients are our friends and students. They have never called any country besides America their home. If their parents had come to America illegally years earlier, they might have been born here and would thus be granted citizenship by birth, also a bedrock of that Constitution you swore to preserve.
So this is where we are: Congress has a few moves afoot, and we can hope one of them is successful in bringing about much-needed immigration reform. In the meantime, these kids who are students in our schools, these young adults who work with us, and these humans of this country have to wait. As part of the DACA registration, they gave the government their phone numbers and addresses, so rounding them up will not present any great difficulty. Besides, school administrators know who each one of them is.
I keep having dreams of Anne Frank:
It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.