THEY are more than just statistics — these 800,000 people brought into the United States as kids by their parents or grandparents grew up in this country not knowing that they did not have all the required immigration documents to live in America legally until they had to apply for a driver’s license or for college. They may have been our kids’ classmates, or a volunteer helping out during times of calamity, or a soldier willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of offering their lives for the freedom and security of the United States.
They are the “Dreamers,” who, for the longest time, had to live under the shadows for fear of being deported out of the only country they know as “home.” That was until former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in June 2012 called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which was meant to help these qualified “Dreamers” who have not committed any crimes and do not pose harm and danger to America to come out of the shadows. This program was meant to be a temporary solution as they waited for Congress to finally pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
The legal basis for this executive order was the “prosecutorial” discretion exercised by both Republican and Democratic past presidents. DACA’s intent is to make “Dreamers” low priority in the use of the government’s limited resources so that those undocumented immigrants with criminal records will be given top priority in moving forward with deportation cases.
DACA is NOT amnesty as this program only gives qualified “Dreamers” a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. Meantime, many of these undocumented youth have come out and have become responsible, productive members of society who pay taxes, and aspire to serve their adoptive country in the academe, work force, and the military.
However, on Tuesday, September 5, President Donald Trump delivered a “gift” to these “Dreamers” he claims he loves, through an announcement made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump is rescinding DACA and has passed the “porcupine” of the job of “fixing” the “Dreamers’” problem onto Congress within six months. After this period and without any new legislation that will protect their status, these more than 800,000 men and women will have to be deported, including 5,050 Filipinos. As Balitang America reported, there are 22,000 undocumented Filipino youths who qualify for DACA.
The Trump administration defends its decision contending that DACA is “unconstitutional”, an overreach of Obama’s use of executive power, even if it had been used by no less than Presidents Reagan, Clinton, and Bush before Obama.
Even Trump’s own party was divided in its support of the president, with many siding with the Democrats that the decision to rescind DACA is cruel and inhumane, and was made by the president to make his followers who make up about 30-40 percent of Americans, happy and loyal. More than anything else, they argue that this is a politically motivated move that will do more harm than good to America.
Former President Barack Obama breaks his silence and issued a statement for the first time saying that “to target hopeful young strivers who grew up here is wrong, because they’ve done nothing wrong.
“The action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.”
“It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.
“Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.
What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.”
Watching the news on Tuesday, however, revealed how some conservative Republicans with a hardline stance on immigration want to proceed with that “legislative fix” that may spare the “Dreamers” from deportation.
On CNN’s “The Situation Room,” a Republican lawmaker told Wolf Blitzer that he would reconsider voting to give legal status to these “Dreamers” if Congress would pass a bill in six months that will strengthen our borders, which should include a downpayment for the border wall, and that the “Merit based” bill which hopes to cut down LEGAL immigration by 50 percent by slashing visas for family based petitions to prioritize high skilled workers should also be part of the mix, among others.
Are the “Dreamers” now being used as bargaining chips or hostages for Trump to get the funding for his border wall that he promised Mexico would be paying? Are the Dreamers’ life being used as leverage for the bill that will cut legal immigration which kills our dream of family reunification?
Whatever your position is, tell your senators and representatives your stand on this issue. Do you want to save the “Dreamers” or do you think they should be deported? CALL NOW: 1-866-834-8040. Time is running out.
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos