DACA – Comprehensive Immigration Reform – The Time is now

As usual with our federal government over the last three decades, big problems are never truly confronted and fixed. DACA is a perfect example.

President Trump yesterday announced that he had ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, which provided children brought illegally to the US by their parents the legal right to remain in the US. Well, he didn’t exactly end it…. specifically, he deferred the end of the program for six months and encouraged Congress to come up with a legal solution. President Trump chose not to take a clear stand on the issue and attempted to shove the issue down the road and onto Congress to fix. Of course, the decision has put the young “dreamers” in a precarious situation as they attempt to build their lives.

Comprehensive immigration reform has been desperately required for 25 years, but no consensus on a workable plan has been forthcoming from the executive and legislative branches. Thus, we are now confronting the impossible moral predicament of what to do about young people brought here illegally as children because we have not responsibly passed a comprehensible workable plan. It is high time we did.

President Trump has proposed a comprehensive immigration plan that encourages the most talented people to come to America to enrich our economy and our society. Unfortunately he chose not to deal with the many other interconnected issues that comprise an immigration policy.

Specifically we should:

1. Develop an immigration program that is generous in the number of poor people we allow annually into America from the Western Hemisphere, which is our “neighborhood.” As the richest country on earth, America must help those who have nowhere else to turn. When immigrants arrive legally, we would direct their resettlement to avoid concentration in any one particular area, thus not burdening local resources during the initial resettlement. Reaffirming America as a welcoming nation will enrich our country, build a unique form of patriotism among those to whom we have extended our nation’s helping hand, improve our standing with our neighbors in Latin and South American, and make fixing our trade deals a bit easier.

2. Be willing to allow a defined but lesser number of poor people escaping oppression and poverty to enter America from the rest of the world.

3. Require all illegal immigrants in the U.S. to register with the government by a date certain. Grant them work visas and a protected status, require them to pay a fine but do not grant them citizenship. If they fail to register they should deported. In being merciful to these unfortunate people, we enrich America and that for which it stands.

4. Mandate all employers, schools, and government agencies to require proof of citizenship or legal status on an ongoing basis from their employees or those to whom they provide services.

5. Develop a 21st Century affordable border security system to better secure our borders.

6. The fundamental answer to reducing illegal immigration is the development of governments that are responsive to the needs of their people. When people have opportunity and basic freedoms, very few are desirous of leaving their homes, extended families, and cultures. For America, this means reinvigorating our efforts to nudge our southern neighbors toward building more responsible governments.

DACA cannot be fixed without connecting it to broader immigration reform.

Children are connected to their parents, and poverty and oppression will always lead people to seek better circumstances. Are we really ready to turn away desperate people with nowhere to turn? As a country of 323 million people, we can responsibly and legally allow several million immigrants into the US each year, which would be double the number we are currently allowing to enter. In contrast, England, with a far smaller population than ours, and a far smaller landmass, allows three times the number of immigrants to enter each year. The predominant number of immigrants who enter America are young and eager to work. They pay taxes, and over time will help our economy grow at a faster pace and remain dynamic. Most economists agree that over time immigrants do not drive down wages for those already here.

President Trump should speak forthrightly and on an ongoing basis to the nation about the benefits of a generous but hardheaded comprehensive immigration policy. Such a balanced program is the right thing to do and would quell the unproductive political wars around immigration. If President Trump championed such an effort, it would have the added benefit of improving his standing with many who have been discouraged by his divisive statements, and it would thus go a long way in improving the chances of moving along his tax and infrastructure initiatives.