Ouch. After Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in September the Trump administration would rescind temporary protections for immigrants brought to our country illegally as children, we looked to Congress to do the right thing. We expected lawmakers to ensure that protections for immigrants who grew up knowing only America as their home country were properly enshrined in federal law. Unfortunately, such efforts now seems imperiled.
Because of the usual infernal partisan wrangling in Congress, some Democrats suggest they may allow the government to shut down over this latest dispute. Yet Republicans assume even greater blame in all this, having cobbled together a proposal that emphasizes border security over safeguards for those temporarily protected by former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order of 2012.
This newspaper has backed the main thrust of two House bills. One would make protections for DACA recipients permanent, and largely without condition. The other, the Recognizing America’s Children Act endorsed by Republican Congressman Bill Flores, would provide legal status to young undocumented immigrants who work full-time, enroll in school or serve in our military. During Flores’ telephone town-hall meeting last month, no less than famed Texas Football magazine founder Dave Campbell pressed Flores to champion these youths and “get it through, as much as you can.”
Now the Senate Republicans have put forward a bill with all sorts of conditions in return for saving so-called “Dreamers” from deportation, including bolstering border security, strengthening e-verify employment verification protocols (to ferret out those working illegally) and putting the brakes on “chain migration,” by which U.S. residents and permanent residents endeavor to win green cards for family members seeking to immigrate.
We support some of these proposals, including what Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas promises would be a nuanced, thoughtful approach to border security that acknowledges walls or fencing in some regions such as Big Bend would be absurd and wasteful. Yet what makes matters more confounding is that the protections offered Dreamers in return are only temporary — three years. This suggests the unfortunate but familiar legislative tactic of kicking yet another can down yet another long and winding road, reminding us of those temporary tax breaks allotted the middle class in the recent tax-reform bill.
We have lambasted Republicans for pressing government shutdowns in the past. Democrats deserve equal scorn if they do so. By the same token, Republicans should stop holding DACA recipients hostage to other controversial immigration reforms. If these innocent youths are ultimately deported, it may confirm growing criticism of the Republican Party’s steady drift into ethnic discrimination and incompetence. If Republicans can cram tax reform down our throats in mad haste, how about some urgency in championing vulnerable DACA recipients, already integral to what makes America great?