Guest Commentary: It’s Up to Congress to Find a Way to Let the Dreamers Stay
By Charlie Gerow
Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking on behalf of President Trump announced that the administration would end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals.
His choice of the word “rescind” is somewhat misleading, though, especially in the emotionally charged atmosphere surrounding immigration policy.
What the Trump administration did was to delay for half a year any action on DACA. The purpose of the delay is to allow Congress to do what it should have done long ago.
While six months is not long in Washington, D.C., time, for the rest of us it’s sufficient time for Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform that combines the rule of law, pragmatic governing and reasonable public policy.
The Left has consistently painted the situation as a binary choice between leaving DACA in place (and risking it being overturned by the courts) and repealing it, thus leaving three quarters of a million or more people in jeopardy, wondering whether they’ll stay or be forced to leave.
The Trump administration announcement created a third way – getting Congress to do its job. Sessions’ announcement follows years of congressional inaction followed by the illegal usurpation of legislative powers by President Obama.
Obama waved his pen on multiple occasions and then put ink to paper using executive orders to end-run Congress on immigration policy, specifically with regard to how to handle children brought here illegally, the so-called “Dreamers.”
Let’s be clear about one thing: DACA is not a “treaty” or anything closely resembling a treaty under U.S. law. DACA was subject to lawsuits filed by numerous states and was likely to be tossed out on constitutional grounds.
The president simply doesn’t have legal authority to create new work permits and rules with the stroke of a pen. Even U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has expressed serious reservations about the legality of DACA.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R) states the case for those seeking to overturn the illegal crafting of DACA by executive order, saying:
“I don’t think anybody believes that a child who has been born brought here at the age of 6 months and is now graduating from high school with a full ride or a scholarship to some school and doesn’t even speak Spanish should be dropped across the border.”
However, he also was clear in saying that “the rule of law has to mean something,” and that the right way to deal with the “Dreamers” is “…through Congress, and allow(ing) Congress to pass a law to make those accommodations under federal law.”
Most Americans believe the “Dreamers” should be allowed to stay.
In fact it’s an overwhelming majority who think that the “Dreamers,” who were brought here at an average age of 6, most of whom learned English, went to school, got jobs and are good members of the community, should stay.
It’s the only country they know – even a majority of Trump supporters agree.
For those who simply want them out, there’s a huge problem. How do you round up the equivalent of the entire population of Alaska and deport them? What’s the cost, in both economic and practical terms of such a move?
The Cato Institute, hardly a left-leaning think-tank, says that deporting the undocumented people who qualify for DACA would cost our economy $280 billion – or more.
Cato says it would cost the U.S. Treasury $60 billion. That’s a lot off tax revenue to make up.
Trump’s proposal isn’t perfect.
He faced a difficult situation, set in motion by his predecessors’ overreaches. The attorneys general of several states had given him until Sept. 5 to act before they pulled the legal trigger targeting DACA. Most legal experts believe they would have prevailed.
While his proposal has problems, so would any solution offered. He put the ball in the right court. Congress now has the opportunity and mandate to act.
Congressional Republicans must now find ways to fuse their differences on immigration for the sake of the country, the economy and their party.
Charlie Gerow is the CEO of Quantum Communications, which has a Maryland office in Annapolis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org