President Donald Trump missed his opportunity. Polls show a large majority of Americans support protecting from deportation young immigrants brought illegally to this country by their parents. A troubled Trump White House would have been helped by the president bridging differences and acting with the "heart" he earlier deemed necessary.
Unfortunately, this president of many colliding views also described the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as "amnesty." Thus, he appeared caught between positions as he announced this week his intentions for DACA going forward.
The president sought to have it both ways. He declared that the program would end in six months. He then urged Congress to act in the meantime to accommodate the roughly 800,000 young people who know this country as home.
The House and Senate should act. They have tried for 15 years -- to no avail, falling short by a handful of votes, too many Democrats and Republicans balking at support for the DREAM Act.
Barack Obama watched Congress fail and listened to key Democratic constituencies. He then created the program, viewing it as temporary. It does not include a path to citizenship. Eligibility is limited to those coming before age 16, living here for at least five years, now in school or with a diploma, and having no criminal record. President Trump argues that his predecessor overstepped his authority, though the law and precedent leave room for such discretion. Yet, at the same time, the president hardly has committed to changing the congressional dynamic through proposed legislation or a passionate call to action.
The president did suggest, erroneously, that DACA triggered a surge of young immigrants. Actually, such an increase traces to legislation protecting victims of human trafficking signed by George W. Bush. The president and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, also alluded to the far-fetched notion that these young immigrants are displacing Americans at work.
They are Americans in every way but formally on paper. They speak English fluently. They are part of the culture, having arrived here at a median age 6 through, again, no choice of their own. Why not protect them from deportation and allow them to work given all the country has invested?
These young immigrants placed their trust in the government, providing data about themselves to participate in the program. Now that information makes them more vulnerable to deportation, as indicated in a memo from the Department of Homeland Security. All of that should be enough to spur Congress to act. The odds that it won't argue for the president sticking with the temporary answer.
--Akron Beacon Journal