It is cruel that the fate of roughly 1 million young people teeters on a fulcrum of political inertia.
It is an insult to our Constitution that public policy critical to both human decency and economic vitality is being determined by executive order and court review, with the legislative branch on the sidelines.
It is thus shameful that Congress has not seriously revised immigration law for 34 years, leaving an outdated, overwhelmed system in place that is fair to no one, from legitimate refugees to legal immigrants to Border Patrol agents.
The urgent case in point is DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, created by a Barack Obama executive order in 2012 after years of congressional inaction, with blame shared by both parties.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week gave the program a temporary reprieve, saying that President Donald Trump’s move to end it was not executed properly. Trump said he will try again.
Despite Trump’s efforts, almost no one in the U.S. wants to deport the young people covered by this program — which would be both a political and humanitarian disaster.
These are people brought to the U.S. as children who generally have known no other country. They are American-educated. Now an average age of 25, they pay an estimated $1.2 billion per year in federal, state and local taxes. Some have served in the military. Some are teachers. Some are cops in states that allow it.
Recent polling has shown that overwhelming majorities, including roughly two-thirds of Trump supporters, want to shield the so-called Dreamers, and Trump himself at times has promised to find a solution for them. In Nebraska, the Omaha and Lincoln chambers support finding a way for them to stay, as do major U.S. businesses and associations.
So with such strong agreement, why don’t we have a solution? Perhaps it is because Republicans and Democrats enjoy a perverse symbiosis in keeping the issue alive. Trump stirs his base with threats to end the program, while Democrats motivate theirs with the chance he might succeed.
Given the putrid state of our political affairs in an election year, Congress is of course unlikely to summon the bravery to end this.
On this point, Rep. Don Bacon, the Republican running for reelection in Nebraska’s 2nd District, was correct in his statement after the Supreme Court ruling: “Congress must find a compromise on DACA, immigration and border security. The mindset of ‘my way or the highway’ is failing us in Congress. We need a pathway for DACA, but also stronger immigration and border security policies so this doesn’t keep happening in the future.”
The devil is in the details, but compassion and common sense dictate that we find a way for these essentially American youths to stay in America.