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posted: 9/5/2017 9:52 PM

Editorial: Congress has duty and ability to protect 'Dreamers'

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  • Speaking at the Justice Department in Washington Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces the administration will "wind down" a program protecting young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

    Speaking at the Justice Department in Washington Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces the administration will "wind down" a program protecting young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.
    Associated Press

 

Congress has been struggling to produce comprehensive immigration reform since at least the time when George W. Bush was president. So, the notion that this divided body now will devise a new immigration strategy in six months is inconceivable.

But the potential is not so hard to imagine for an answer on the least complicated part of the debate -- the question of how to protect individuals brought to America illegally as children.

In declaring that the Trump administration will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions laid on Congress the responsibility for establishing through law, not executive whim, the protection of so-called Dreamers.

President Barack Obama created the existing DACA protections in a 2012 executive order in the midst of a continuing stalemate with Congress over immigration policy. His action assured at least that people whose only crime is having obeyed and lived with their parents would not be punished, but it also provided political cover for a Congress that would not act. The Trump administration's declaration puts Congress back in the spotlight -- where, it should be said, it belongs. As Trump's action shows and he has said himself, this issue is too important to be left to the mercy of the back-and-forth swings of political fluctuation.

The state's two Democratic senators and the Democrats in the suburban delegation to Congress were quick to condemn the Trump administration position. We expect them to be just as quick to seek consensus on behalf of Dreamers. It's also time for Republicans Peter Roskam, of Wheaton, and Randy Hultgren, of Plano, to step up with constructive ideas.

Our greatest fear is that congressional representatives on all sides of the debate will see an opportunity to load up the issue of childhood arrivals with the complications that have made immigration reform such an intractable controversy. For, despite all the entanglements that confound an immigration solution, the goals of DACA are straightforward, compelling and widely supported. Studies have overwhelmingly found so-called Dreamers to be productive contributors to society whose loss, never mind the moral implications, would be a blow to the American economy. Furthermore, Americans, by proportions as high as 80 percent in some surveys, support actions to protect Dreamers and provide them a path to permanent citizenship.

Such considerations ought to make producing a solution for Dreamers manageable, even for a Congress facing a tough, busy agenda, and we encourage both the Democrats and the Republicans in the suburban delegation to set aside partisan objectives that will impede the process.

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