Tuesday 21st of November 2017 Sahafi.jo | Ammanxchange.com
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‘The DREAMers deserve better than this’ - By James J. Zogby, The Jordan Times

 

 

In the midst of the many immediate challenges confronting the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump just added one more. This past week, Trump told the Department of Justice to rescind the Obama-era DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) Programme.
When president Barack Obama initiated DACA in 2012, he did so out of frustration with Congress’ inability to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that would have addressed the plight of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the US. 
Of special concern to Obama were the young people who had come into the US with their parents, had lived here for many years, were in school or working or in the US military, knew no other country but America, but, through no fault of their own, were undocumented and could be deported any time. 
Obama, therefore, instituted DACA, a programme that allowed these young people the opportunity to normalise their lives. DACA allowed them to get work permits and to be safe from deportation.
To qualify for DACA, registrants had to meet specific requirements. Among them, they had to have been under 6 years of age when they entered the US, under 31 in the year DACA was introduced, and have virtually no criminal record.
They also needed to demonstrate that they were working, in school or serving in the military.
Over 800,000 applied and most were found eligible.
Everyone knew that the programme was a temporary fix, but given the failure of Congress to responsibly resolve the status of the undocumented, this fix provided much-needed relief to those who were living in fear.
DACA was immediately denounced by Republicans as an unconstitutional overreach, and they pledged to have it overturned. One of the most virulent opponents of the programme was then senator Jeff Sessions, the current attorney general.
From his public statements on immigration, Trump appeared to be somewhat ambivalent on the matter. He, too, accused Obama of overreach and railed against “illegal immigrants”. At the same time, he has expressed compassion for the young people who find themselves in this predicament.
We are led to believe that the actions he took this week reflected this ambivalence. He ordered the Justice Department to announce the termination of DACA — but provided a six-month window before its expiration — giving, he said, Congress that much time to legislate a solution. 
The problem with what the president did is that it was both unnecessary and unrealistic. It was also cruel and unsettling to the young people whose fate now hangs in the balance. 
It was unnecessary because it did not have to be done.
With Congress facing other pressing challenges — passing a budget, extending the debt ceiling, finding agreement on tax and healthcare reforms, and dealing with costly crises brought on by this year’s hurricane season — the termination of DACA adds yet another burden to an already packed legislative calendar.
It is unrealistic to expect that the same dysfunctional Congress that has not been able to pass any meaningful legislation this year will now find its way to come to agreement in the next six months on the very issue (immigration reform) it has failed to resolve for well over a decade.
And it is unsettling for the DACA recipients who now find themselves, once again, facing an uncertain future.
As an explanation of just how sticky this issue will be for a divided Congress to address, some Republicans are now proposing to their Democratic colleagues that they might support legislation to normalise the status of the DACA recipients if the Democrats will agree to support their efforts to cut in half the total number of immigrants allowed annually into the US and support funding for the wall Trump hopes to build between Mexico and the US.
Not only do Democrats find it immoral to callously use the future of these young people as bargaining chips, they also consider both of these options to be unrelated non-starters.
There is one bill being proposed by Senators Lindsey Graham (Republican) and Richard Durbin (Democrat) that addresses the status of these young people as a stand-alone measure.
Their legislation is an updated version of the DREAM Act — an effort that has been proposed before but failed to pass both Houses of Congress in its form.
The DREAM Act and its companion in the House were introduced in July and are now facing the ticking clock imposed by Trump’s cruel six-month deadline.
A final word about the DACA registrants: I spoke to many of these young people and even, at one point, hired one young man in my office. His story is not unusual.
At the age of four, he came to the US from Morocco. Like his parents, he was undocumented. He went to school, graduated from college and did not discover he was not a citizen until he applied to and was accepted in law school. Only then did he realise that he was not a citizen of the only country he had ever known.
Threatened with deportation to Morocco, he appealed and we were, in a small way, able to assist him. He received a stay of deportation, finished law school and today is an attorney working for a non-profit immigrant rights organisation.
In recognition of his commitment to public service, he was awarded a “Champion of Change” citation by the White House. Today he is a DACA registrant.
There are many stories, like his, of remarkable young DACA registrants making a real contribution to our country.
While the issue of the “undocumented” is largely portrayed as a Latino issue, DACA registrants come from over 160 countries from around the world. There are over 10,000 from Europe (including every country from that continent except Switzerland and Lichtenstein), almost 2,000 from Arab countries and almost 1,000 from Canada.
Among all of  them are great stories of heroism, scientific accomplishment, public and military service, and others about individuals who are working hard, raising young families and contributing to their communities.
These young people deserve more than to be cruelly cast out or callously treated as bargaining chips.
They deserve to have a clean DREAM Act passed and they deserve to see Congress finally, responsibly and compassionately pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Should Congress fail once again to do its duty, Trump ought to rescind his order and reinstate DACA.
He says he “loves these kids”. Keeping them here would be the best way to show that love, instead of holding them hostage to a broken political process.
 

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