I write a lot, and grieve even more, regarding the seeming lack of common sense that has invaded our nation. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the recent three-day partial shutdown of the federal government “laying waste to reason.” Now, there is another instance of political decisions making no sense to me – absolutely no sense.
As was the case with the partial shutdown, the situation I want to address now is driven by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. An article by Katie Heinrich and Daniel Arkin titled “What Is DACA? Here’s What You Need to Know About the Program Trump Is Ending” explains DACA as follows:
“President Barack Obama created DACA through a 2012 executive order. The program has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to remain in the country. Applicants cannot have serious criminal histories, and must have arrived in the U.S. before 2007, when they were under the age of 16. DACA recipients can live and work legally in the U.S. for renewable two-year periods.”
President Donald Trump rescinded President Obama’s executive order and gave Congress until March 5 to pass legislation addressing the status of DACA participants.
The partial shutdown was clearly brought about when Democrats, led by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, refused to vote in favor of a continuing resolution that would have funded the government for a short period while budget negotiations went forward. Democrats took this action because they wanted protection for DACA participants included in the continuing resolution. Since Republicans only have 51 senators, while 60 votes were required to pass the continuing resolution, the lack of sufficient Democratic votes doomed the legislation.
After the shutdown ended, Trump announced a proposal for addressing the DACA situation. Leigh Ann Caldwell and Phil McCausland detail the offer in an article titled “Trump backs citizenship for Dreamers while slashing legal immigration.” They explain there would be a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
They also reported, “The path to citizenship would be provided to DACA recipients via a 10- to 12-year path that includes ‘requirements for work, education and good moral character.’” Caldwell and McCausland said the offer further requires: a $25 billion trust fund for a border wall; funds to add new enforcement officers, immigration judges and prosecutors; an end to family reunification, also called “chain migration” by conservatives; and an end to the diversity visa lottery. A later update to this article indicated family immigration would still be allowed, but sponsorship of immigrants would be limited to spouses or children, rather than also including extended family members.
This is where I believe the lack of common sense shows up. It seems to me that common sense dictates that this offer be examined in detail, followed by a civil discussion of what legitimate participants in the process view as positives and negatives of the offer. These steps would be followed by thoughtful negotiations that aim to do what is right for America while dealing as fairly as possible with DACA-qualified persons. Yes, I am saying legislation addressing this matter should not bring undue hardship on American citizens. Hardship can be measured in terms of financial costs and the loss of jobs by American citizens; however, whatever action is taken should include every possible step to ensure that this DACA situation does not happen again.
Operating on the premise that what I outlined is reasonable, common sense, this is nowhere near what is going on in Washington as I write this column. Trump’s proposal was immediately dismissed, and even blatantly attacked, by various individuals and groups. Consider the following segments from an article titled “Schumer rejects Trump’s immigration proposal” by Burgess Everett:
“‘This plan flies in the face of what most Americans believe,’ Schumer said on Twitter. While Trump ‘finally acknowledged that the Dreamers should be allowed to stay here and become citizens, he uses them as a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hard-liners have advocated for years.’”
“‘President Trump and Republicans cannot be allowed to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip for their wish list of anti-immigrant policies,’ said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).”
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it ‘anti-immigrant,’ and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Trump’s plan would institute Trump’s ‘hardline immigration agenda — including massive cuts to legal immigration — on the backs of these young people.’”
I could go on listing quotes that support my contention that there is, with minimal exceptions, an unimaginable lack of reason, of common sense, in addressing the DACA issue. Instead of pursuing a course that could use Trump’s surprise DACA offer as a starting point and thoughtfully negotiating a resolution, people in the position to pursue this course spend their time before microphones attacking the offer in ways that reflect nearly zero thought.
Here is an example of that lack of thought. The president is accused of being “anti-immigrant,” and his DACA proposal is pointed to as supporting that accusation. A case-in-point is “chain migration.” Following are selected quotes from an article by Theresa Cardinal Brown titled “Chain Migration and DACA: An Explainer:”
“Under current U.S. immigration law, citizens may sponsor certain relatives for green cards. Green card holders may, in turn, sponsor a smaller group of relatives for green cards. Collectively, this ability of immigrants, who later become green card holders and citizens, to sponsor their family members is described by some as a ‘chain’ of migration.
“Family-sponsored green cards have been part of immigration law since at least 1965 and account for about 65 percent of new legal immigrants to the United States each year.
“Immediate Relatives: U.S. citizens, (both nativeborn and naturalized) can sponsor their spouse, children under 21 or parents (if the citizen is at least 21). There are no annual limits on how many green cards can be issued each year to this group.
“U.S. citizens can also sponsor their adult children (and their spouses and grandchildren) for green cards, as well as their brothers and sisters, but there are annual caps.
“Current green card holders can sponsor their spouses, minor children and unmarried adult children, for green cards, again subject to annual caps.”
Brown’s article leads me to at least two critical points for consideration. One is that 65 percent of legal immigrants come to America through chain migration. She says this regarding requirements of the applicant: “This step includes criminal and background checks, proof of ability to support themselves, no disqualifying medical conditions, and no previous violations of immigration law.” Nothing here addresses the question of capacity for assimilation into American society or what value the person’s presence adds to the well-being and advancement of this country. Then there is the question of whether citizenship for DACA participants would eventually allow some of them to sponsor their parents who came here illegally. I see these as reasonable concerns to be addressed.
Equally reasonable for negotiation is a wall system at the southern border and other actions that enhance border security. In the case of DACA, this action helps prevent recurrence of the problem. Then this from www.uscis.gov/greencard/diversity- visa: “The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.”
Given that we are a country with debt spiraling out of control, struggling to solve a horrendous poverty crisis, and flailing in efforts to provide affordable medical care to our citizens and make living wage jobs available to millions, why are we bringing more people in through a lottery system?
Simply put, I do not see common sense at work in the negative and attacking responses to Trump’s surprise DACA offer. Given the glaring lack of common sense demonstrated here, I have to conclude there is something other than clear-headed thinking at work. I believe White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders got to the heart of the matter when she said Democrats must decide, “do they hate” Trump “more than they love this country”?