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By GENE H. McINTYRE
Humanitarians are people who are concerned about, and seek to, protect their fellow human beings. They are also found to be kind and thoughtful about the welfare of most living creatures. They are those Americans among us who view Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from an emotional position, seeing it as a humane way to treat those who entered the U.S. through no choice of their own.
DACA is an American immigration policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before their 16th birthday and before June, 2007, to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. It does confer non-immigrant status but not a path to citizenship.
Meanwhile, we Americans hardly got to direct our attention to the divisive expressions of racism and hate at Charlottesville when two weeks later we’ve got DACA. However, while Charlottesville had only one side wrong, as much as evil is never right, DACA, it’s argued, has two legitimates, that is, the humane angle and the law and order angle.
In the first instance, with DACA, there’s a case to be made that former President Barack Obama used DACA as an executive order in 2012 for political gain and has used his legal jargon knowledge to defend it. By Obama’s own standards, DACA does not stand the test of legal scrutiny. The U.S. Constitution plainly gives the role of lawmaker to Congress while the executive branch enforces the law.
DACA defers deportation and provides work permits, Social Security cards, and a driver’s license to over one million illegal immigrants who arrived as minors while, from the beginning, has been controversial due to its dubious legal origins; therein lies the rub with DACA. Those protesting its rescind want us to believe this is a simple question of the heart, of kindness, of just another chapter in the American immigration story. Yet, at it core, DACA is a question of legality, that is this: Is it legal for a president to create legislative authority out of thin air, deciding what preferences to enforce?
All presidents try end runs and this was Obama’s end run. However, it’s an extreme action by the executive branch that underscores the broken state of our immigration system. The 11 million immigrants living illegally here is due in part at least to a system that requires long wait times, imposes ancient and possibly irrelevant quotas and often gets those, trying to negotiate it, into a morass of subjective decision making.
Those who want to crawl out from under the mountain of emotions now being unleashed throughout our land should recognize that the current system needs to be remedied and stand down to redirect their efforts to the U.S. Congress. The question of immigration, especially when it involves children, is always packed with emotion. Yet, intense emotion should not overrule the law itself.
In keeping with his reputation for self-serving ventures that are profit motivated, President Trump just may be onto something worthy of consideration. He is consistently guilty of what’s judged hypocritical by his own executive orders; nevertheless, in this case, sending the matter of DACA to the U.S. Congress may be the only way the 11 million undocumented immigrants will ever come to a place where lasting peace-of-mind and law-providing safety can be realized by them.
Personal satisfactions may be derived from marching in America’s streets and byways while calling out and carrying signs conveying messages about what’s wanted. In our country today, unfortunately, the way to get a law on the books is what U.S, corporations and America’s wealthy do: they hire lobbyists and send them to D.C. with bags of money.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)