The political roller coaster that Dreamers have been riding ever since last November when President Donald J. Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and gave Congress six months to come up with a legislative solution continues.
First, the president tells Dreamers they should not worry. Then he changes his mood as quickly as the White House makes another fake news accusation.
On Jan. 9, the president, in a meeting whose first hour was televised, appeared to accept Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s suggestion that the Dreamers be taken care of first and the rest of the tougher immigration issues could be taken up later. However, he quickly pivoted when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pointed out that a Dream Act needed to be tied to the other immigration issues.
Trump said we wanted a “bill of love.”
“I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with,” said Trump. “I am very much reliant on the people in this room. I know most of the people on both sides, have a lot of respect for the people on both sides, and what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with.”
Hours before the government shut down at midnight Jan. 19, Trump rejected a bipartisan plan.
“DACA has been made increasingly difficult by the fact that Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!” Trump wrote on Twitter last Friday.
Schumer, who met privately with Trump, said he offered far more than $1.6 billion for Trump’s plans to build a wall on the southern border with México. A Republican Senator put that figure at $25 billion.
Last Wednesday, the White House revealed an immigration plan that contains a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million Dreamers, $25 billion for a border wall and other security measures. It also ends family reunification except for spouse and children who are minors. (Twenty-three percent of permanent residence cards were given to parents, adult children, siblings, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of U.S. citizens or green card holders).
“If they do a great job, I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of, after a period of years, being able to become a citizen,” said Trump, who is looking at a 10- to 12-year period.
From the looks of things, there is little “love” in the president’s latest proposal.
We believe Dreamers should not be used as bargaining chips in any immigration deal. The DACA recipients have already been vetted, and most of them are college students working on an education that will prove valuable to this country. They should not be punished coming into this country at an age where they could not consent.
We believe family reunification has worked well in the past and does not need to be sacrificed in favor of “merit-based” immigration. There are thousands and thousands of stories of immigrants who used this program and became great contributors to this nation.
We believe that the diversity of immigrants have made this country great, and they continue to do so.
We believe the non-Dreamer part of immigration reform will be so difficult to negotiate that a consensus will be difficult to achieve in such a short time. The continuing resolution gives Congress until Feb. 8 to come up with a spending plan for the federal government. And, we’re sure Dreamers will increase the pressure on both Democrats and Republicans to get a clean Dream Act included before they vote on a spending bill.
We believe it’s time for Trump to roll up his sleeves and work on an immigration deal. A new Dream Act should be easy, after all, 80 percent of Americans believe DACA recipients should be taken care of with a pathway to citizenship.