Right On: Will dysfunctional Republicans fail the ‘Dreamers?’

Andrea Aguilera, who has been able to get a work permit and avoid deportation through DACA, sits at a computer in Chicago on November 17, 2016 | Associated Press photo by Nam Y. Huh, St. George News

OPINION — The short answer is yes, most likely they will.

In the process, Republicans will miss a golden opportunity for an easy and popular political victory, prove they can’t govern as a majority and boost Democratic 2018 election prospects.

“Dreamers” is the name given to teens and young adults brought to this country illegally when they were young children, mostly from Latin America. Ours is the only country they have ever known. They’ve attended our schools and speak English as their first language.

They see themselves as Americans. And we should, too.

Yes, they are here illegally. But as a nation, we tolerated illegal immigration for decades when the Dreamers’ parents came to pick our crops, maintain our landscapes and clean our houses and hotel rooms. Politicians in both parties said much but did little.

Further complicating the problem, children born here to illegal parents are American citizens by virtue of our 14th Amendment. Deporting their illegal parents and Dreamer siblings means deporting an innocent citizen along with them, both morally and legally wrong.

With a large number of young citizens mixed in with illegal parents, we have prioritized keeping families together by allowing these families to stay.

As a people, we are ambivalent about how to deal with the mess we’ve allowed to happen. Anti-immigration nationalists want to deport them all. The left sees them as another identity group to be exploited as an anti-Republican wedge issue.

Obama attempted to use Dreamers for cynical political purposes as part of his 2012 reelection bid. Unable to get his preferred immigration policies through a Republican-controlled House, he “legislated” from the White House.

He issued a clearly unconstitutional executive order creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, further poisoning immigration reform politics. DACA was subsequently slapped down by the courts.

As a result, Republicans decided Obama couldn’t be trusted and refused to enact any compromise immigration reform legislation. Yet Obama deported record numbers of illegal immigrants, a fact Trump acknowledged during his campaign.

According to current polls, only 15 percent of Americans want Dreamers deported. Most want them to receive a legal status allowing them to stay including the 58 percent who think they should become citizens after careful vetting.

Count me as one who believes Dreamers should be allowed to stay. I have been a consistent supporter of increased legal immigration for years.

In the short term, we need qualified workers when many jobs go begging nationwide and especially here in Southern Utah. Longer term, many Dreamers are going to college, getting advanced degrees and joining our military. They will value their citizenship.

While I have frequently disagreed with Trump, he is doing the right thing with DACA. He announced his intent to rescind Obama’s clearly unconstitutional executive order establishing the program. But he will wait six months, giving Congress time to enact legislation to address the issue.

Immigration is a fractious issue for Republicans. Congressional Republicans claim to be pushing legislation to support Dreamers but neither the House nor the Senate has made a serious effort this year. Now Trump has called their bluff with a six-month deadline.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are fully aware that finding a solution acceptable to enough Republicans to pass each body will be difficult if not impossible. Yet, with broad public support for the Dreamers, even among Trump voters, failing to produce any legislation will punish Republicans at the polls in 2018. Republican leaders are likely to be forced to reach across the aisle to Democrats to find enough votes.

Democrats, who have demonstrated far more party discipline over the past eight years, would be in a position to demand provisions that they favor in exchange for their votes.

In my mind, Trump comes out the winner. He is ending the unconstitutional DACA program which pleases conservatives like me. But by deferring action against Dreamers for six months, he puts the onus on Congress to take action where that responsibility belongs. Further, he could require funding for his cherished border wall as the price for his signature on any bill.

So where do we go from here?

The root cause of many of our immigration woes is Section 1 of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. It states that anyone born within our borders is a citizen. This amendment, ratified in 1868, was intended to protect recently-emancipated slaves in the post-Civil War South. But today it has an unintended consequence when illegal immigrants give birth to new citizens within our borders.

Amending the Constitution to eliminate this anachronism would require approval by two-thirds of Congress and three-quarters of the states. I’d welcome the change but there is little chance that it will happen in my lifetime or yours. Democrats, playing identity politics, would portray it as anti-Hispanic.

Nonetheless we can and must continue efforts to end illegal immigration. Between Obama’s historically-high deportation levels and Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric, the illegal flow has been substantially reduced if not reversed. Keep it up.

Trump’s border wall is symbolic and most likely not effective. Further, it unnecessarily antagonizes our neighbors in Mexico. Forget it.

Create a path for Dreamers to become citizens. Pass the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2017.

Finally, expand legal immigration opportunities for those with skills that benefit our economy. We should be welcoming high tech workers and entrepreneurs. Canada provides a highly successful nearby example praised worldwide. Start serious work in Congress now.

Let’s get immigration right and off the partisan political agenda.

Howard Sierer is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Craig September 14, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Giving citizenship to children born in America whose mother is an illegal alien is a misuse of the 14th amendment. It should end.

    It’s a difficult issue, none-the-less.

    • Blemonds September 14, 2017 at 9:14 am

      The article isn’t about children born here but rather children who came here illegally. The children are not citizens, they’re illegal aliens

  • anchor_babe September 14, 2017 at 8:01 am

    With or without documents #heretostay

    • Kyle L. September 14, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Not having documents is like being on a plane with no ticket. Hope you packed a parachute. You will need it soon I hope.

    • ladybugavenger September 15, 2017 at 12:19 pm

      anchor baby- that statement is unamerican and a slap in the face to the legal Americans, the ones that went through the process to become a legal citizen- go back to Mexico!

  • tcrider September 14, 2017 at 8:19 am

    The long answer is:
    both left and right are equally dysfunctional, except the right has been trying to appeal to the lesser educated. Some people
    think obama was bad, just think what would happen if bernie was in there, there would free everything with no limits.
    back to the dreamers, (after they grow up), I just wish they would quit abandoning the cars and leaving them on the streets of saint with no license plates, to be towed away.

  • Real Life September 14, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Just when was it when ILLEGAL became acceptable?

  • Who September 14, 2017 at 9:49 am

    I still don’t get why it is so hard to understand the illegal part.
    We elect officials to uphold the law. Do we only want them uphold the laws we agree with?
    On a side note, How about treating illegal aliens the same way their country treats undocumented? IE: If they are welcoming, so should we be.

  • John September 14, 2017 at 10:20 am

    If your parents sneak you into a movie theater through the exit , should the movie theater be forced to give you free popcorn, candy and soda? No….they show your butt to the door ! What part of ILLEGAL do you not understand ?

  • Tubby Kay September 14, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I guess I agree on about 75% of the article……Dems and Repubs are a bunch of self serving political nuts…Of course, I mean Congress and those of their ilk.

  • NickDanger September 14, 2017 at 11:30 am

    The real question is, what do we owe these people? And it might surprise some who have read others of my comments that I feel we do owe them something.

    Here are people who are mostly educated, employed, English-speaking non-criminals. Productive contributors. My perception of someone who is qualified for U.S. citizenship is that. Exactly that. You expel a skilled, educated working citizen-in-all-but-name from this country, who benefits? Who benefits is the country that person ends up in. There is no greater asset to a country than a productive citizen. Why are we talking about giving away some of our best assets?

    Yes, DACA should be eliminated because it never should have been a program in the first place, and it is indeed every bit as unconstitutional as the Republicans say it is. But then, Obama never let the Constitution stand in his way. The program we should have created would walk these folks down the path to citizenship in a timely manner. They are culturally American already. That’s one step up from any other immigrant.

    Let them stay, put them ALL into a fast-track program to citizenship, and be done with it. If they screw that up somehow, well, that’s on them. But this? This one is on us.

    • ladybugavenger September 14, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      A pathway to citizenship for those already here is, in theory, a beautiful idea.

      The downfall of doing this is the millions that will continue to come over illegally to obtain that pathway to citizenship and coming into this country illegally as a way to obtain citizenship would be the wrong path to citizenship, would you agree?

  • comments September 14, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Ok, a lot of these “Dreamer kids” are wonderful, hardworking, college educated, tax-paying, law biding members of our society. I see no evidence that this is by any mean a majority of them. What about all the “dreamer kids” that are just losers, criminals, drug dealers, drug addicts, non-employed, moochers on society. Is there a plan to separate out the bad apples and deport those, or do we just grant blanket citizenship to all these people that are by law illegal mexicans? No doubt if we try to deport the bad apples among the “dreamer kids” you’ll have leftist groups going nuts and dragging things out in the courts for years. Like I’ve said before, imagine the good that all these “wonderful dreamer kids” could do back home in mexico. If they’re as wonderful as we’re told in the media maybe they’re just the asset that mexico needs to pull itself out from being a 3rd world dump. Lets give mexico back its citizens and let them thrive in their homeland. Indeed if the “dreamer kids” are as wonderful as we’re told that’s exactly what should happen. Let’s enforce the laws on the books, or should the US just go ahead and annex mexico? Imagine that, how fun would that be?

    • ladybugavenger September 14, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      so much corruption in Mexico with their gov’t, policio, federalies, mafia, gangs, and so on. We could just bomb the bad parts of Mexico, make Mexico Part of the U.S and start over. So then Mexico and Mexicans will no longer exist and everyone will be American. or they can keep their existence, heritage, and Mexican pride and go make Mexico great again.

      • ladybugavenger September 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm

        Just get legal. Go through the process, come here legally or hand over your country to America. Make Mexico, America. (Right now the way things are going is America is becoming Mexico-turn It around and make Mexico, America. I’m tired of all this bs. I don’t go to your country illegally.

      • NickDanger September 14, 2017 at 3:08 pm

        @ladybugavenger: The key to the situation is secure borders. Trump is working on that. As far as I’m concerned every single person entering the country needs to be documented on entry, and searched out if they stay past their scheduled departure date. You wall off Mexico, increase security on the Canadian border, monitor every port, airport, or easy point of entry, and you’re going to have very few illegals finding their way in. Combine that with frequent identity checks internally and fewer still will be staying long.

        I also think the idea of parents out there in the second & third-world getting this idea that they can bring their kids here and we’ll eventually adopt them as citizens is more fiction than fact. It has happened. Is it happening a lot? I don’t see much evidence of it. If it does happen in the future, it can be addressed by adopting a smart, firm policy about what we will do with these children, i.e. we WILL send them back, no ifs, ands, or buts. That message should be clear enough if we stick to our policies and enforce them without exception.

        @comments: I can only go by what I read. I have read the requirements for entry into the DACA program. They must have a high school diploma, OR have served honorably in the armed forces; which, unless I’m mistaken, would require them to have a HSD anyway. They must have been here continuously since at least June 15, 2007 – 10+ years. They must have no felonies, no serious misdemeanors, and no more than three minor misdemeanors.

        That’s the minimum requirement for these youngsters, and it all must be documented. I have also read that 95% of them are either full-time students or employed full-time, which puts them in a higher category than the average American kid.

        So these are not bad kids. They can’t be, or they’d never have been accepted for DACA.

        • ladybugavenger September 14, 2017 at 7:17 pm

          Build the wall! Here…I’ll donate $10 to the build the wall gofundme account (lol…not a bad idea)

      • comments September 14, 2017 at 3:11 pm

        idk, was mexico ever great? who knows? I just think it sets a bad precedent. Rewarding illegals for sneaking in by granting them citizenship. We should then give every child and young adult in mexico US citizenship as their reward for not sneaking in. I mean as a reward for THEIR PARENTS no sneaking in. who even knows anymore? why even have a border or laws in the first place. They sneaked in their little mexican children, had a few anchor babies, and in the end they’re rewarded for it. Rewarded for breaking our laws. Lets go ahead and open our borders to all of africa. If they can get themselves over here on a boat or something they get free citizenship and welfare for life. Lotta them africans are in a lot worse shape than those mexicans ever were. Why do we even have a border and a country? does it even matter anymore?

        • comments September 14, 2017 at 3:17 pm

          I’d still like to know what social security numbers all these mexican nationals are using for employment and to join the military. Are there millions upon millions of just plain fake social security numbers? Isn’t that fraud in its own right? strange times

          • mctrialsguy September 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm

            In California, they buy cards on the streets in L.A. that were stolen from people, and those people end up paying the taxes. I love the cute picture that Howard used, I can post some real one’s from L.A. !! Those aren’t so cute!!

          • ladybugavenger September 14, 2017 at 7:10 pm

            It’s pretty easy to find a deceased Jose Gonzalez and use his ss# and also what mctrialsguy said.

  • mctrialsguy September 14, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    They should be called “Outcasts” and…..casted out! Howard can be the bus driver…

  • mctrialsguy September 14, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Go to Los Angeles and drive the streets and then talk about the Dreamer kids, most roam the streets like packs of stray dogs causing havoc, there are 30,000 gangs in L.A. Every restaurant and store is run by Hispanics and they all speak Spanish instead of English. Once a business hires a Hispanic, they must have a bi-lingual manager, then that manager only hires Hispanics, and then they speak Spanish and drive out all other workers until they are the only one’s. Every doctors office, dentist, real estate, hospital, etc.. has to have a bi-lingual counter person, and it goes on and on until they take all of the jobs and the community starts looking like a third world country. They dump their trash, chairs, refrigerators, couches, mattresses, and appliances on the streets and freeways at night….and then they work under the table and get government subsistence….I know as I have worked in that arena for thirty years and getting out to St. George to retire. Don’t bring those problems to your area…….They wave Mexican flags and not American flags!! Hopefully that never comes your way!! Don’t plant that seed, or it will get out-of-control!!

  • Kyle L. September 14, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    Legal means that you have a SSN which means that at some point in time you will start to pay back to society what has been given to you, if you in fact are an English speaking, educated, contributing member or society. Without a SSN you can never do this and you can never have the same standing as someone who does. Without paying your part and making a contribution to society what you think does not matter. This country belongs to the people willing to work and pay to keep it running. Period.

  • Kyle L. September 14, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    BTW ever wonder way ever wonder why people come here from their country that they hate and try to make it into their country? I will never understand why they leave a third world country and come here and then turn the neighborhoods that they populate into third world neighborhoods. Anyone have an answer?

    • comments September 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      Because it’s the way they are. They can’t help it. Countries are the way they are because of the people. If you brought a bunch of Sub-Saharan Africans over to the US they’d naturally try to live like they do in their native jungles.

  • mctrialsguy September 14, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Yes, they were not brought up with money and / or values, so they act the same when they get here, nothing more, then…their neighborhood looks like where the came from very soon because they do not clean-up after themselves or others, do not maintain their surroundings, do not watch their children, and expect others to do it for them. They dump their furniture, appliances, etc..in the street because they believe that others may need it, and if not someone else will pick it up. They come here with completely different values from birth. You cannot change that…I worked and tried to do that for thirty (30) years and to build affordable housing, and they do not get it, do not wish to really change, and expect everything that they can get for free. They play the system and the government dumps money and help into the system for them, and it does no good, the take and take, and do not change. It is that simple…unfortunately. It took me years to understand that and to work seventy (70) hours a week trying to help them. 80 % of the children in the L.A. school district speak no English.

  • commonsense September 15, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Each of these undocumented dreamers can seek legal immigration. Right now it is political and Dems are anxious to welcome another identity group to their voting rolls.
    This just can’t be allowed. Honest foreigners have gone through legal channels to become US citizens. It’s not fair to them.

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