DACA was big news yesterday, but what is it? DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – an immigration policy created by executive action of President Barack Obama in June 2012. DACA provides that some illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors get deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. DACA was rescinded by executive action of President Donald Trump September 5, 2017 (with a delayed implementation of 6 months with implication that Congress needs to institute DACA through legislative action or provide a replacement).
A program created through executive authority was problematic from the very beginning. How could these young people trust in this benefit created by simple presidential authority which can as easily be whisked away by presidential executive action (as it has been). While Trump is the goat in the news media at the moment, we must also understand Obama set up this failure by creating through executive action what must be created through legislative action. Congress also deserves blame. The U.S. Congress needs to actually do something to fix our broken-down immigration system – and with it provide some relief for the difficult situation of those who were brought here and have lived here since they were small children.[i] It is not the President’s job to make laws. Congress needs to get in gear, stand up to the task and do its duty, according to the Constitution. Seems also everyone but Congress, regardless of party-affiliation or philosophical bent, understands that our immigration policy is severely broken and requires serious attention. It will be ironic if the President being cursed for repealing DACA forces the hand of Congress into legal immigration reform.
I am no expert in the arena of immigration, but I have my opinions. I have no detailed fixes, but I have general ideas. None of them are likely new or original, but they seem better than keeping the status quo. Regarding the specific repeal of DACA, hopefully Congress will be awakened into moving forward to pass some legislation regarding children brought here as infants. They have been raised in America as Americans. They know little or nothing of the culture and country of their parents. Some of them may not even speak the language of their parent’s culture and country of origin.
Any legislation that Congress passes must consider the past and plan for the future. Addressing the future should incentivize legal immigration without rewarding illegal immigration. The past is past and not easily fixed – and certainly will never be to everyone’s satisfaction. Why not draw a line/set a date and say, “Anyone who is already here on such-and-such a date – if you are not a terrorist or a criminal[ii] – may stay as a documented non-citizen resident.” Such non-citizen residents would not be deported, and a path to citizenship provided and encouraged (though not one that mocks those who came legally and are on the current legal path to citizenship). Those unable to walk the path to citizenship could remain as non-citizen residents who benefit from being in our country but don’t get all the benefits of being citizens. With this in the past, move on to real reform in the future.
This post addresses immigration from a national, legal and political perspective,[iii] and I will hope to post more from the Christian perspective tomorrow.
[i] It is a well-known principle that children suffer harm from the actions of their parents. For example, if a man is imprisoned for murder, his children will live without the benefits of a father in the home and other related benefits. We don’t refuse to punish crime because of the consequences to children. Yet there is Christian kindness and compassion in mitigating as much as possible the harm that children suffer as the consequences of the actions of their parents.
[ii] Other than the crime of illegal immigration.
[iii] Hopefully driven by Christian principles.