I have a special affinity for Dreamers. Being the child of immigrants who came to this country legally with one dollar in their pockets, I have been the recipient of the American dream and have tremendous hakaras ha’tov (appreciation) that I was able to grow up in this “goldene medinah.” I want to see the DACA recipients benefit, as well, without reprisals. I, like many other decent folks, feel that everything has to be done to protect these young people from being deported and have their lives ruined. The Dreamers were brought to this country at no fault of their own, and now they are being punished for it.
Dreamers are our best and brightest and are an asset to our country. The DACA recipients are the hope of our nation. They have done everything we have asked them to do. They are sitting in AP classes and have high class ranks. They study hard, work hard, and are very patriotic. Some have even served in our military. Coming as children, the United States is the only country that they know and love.
March 5 was supposed to be the day that the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program officially ended, so the deportation protections for nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children were no longer applicable. The quagmire is a result of the executive order that President Obama issued in 2012 but did not go to Congress to enact a law that would protect them legally.
Dreamers are our best and brightest and are an asset
to our country. The DACA recipients are the hope of our nation
Many authorities consider that what President Obama did was unconstitutional. They reiterate that the Legislative branch of our government is the one to enact the laws and the Executive branch enforces the laws – not vice versa. But Obama, being true to form, led the Dreamers to believe that Congress would come to their rescue. Democrats, after all, had majorities in both Houses of Congress at the time, as well holding the presidency, so he touted that the Democrats would save the day. Democrats were trying to score political points. They wanted to turn the Dreamers into Democratic voters.
It should have been a slam-dunk. They certainly were in a position to improve the lives of 690,000 Dreamers. Why wasn’t that done?
The sinister reason was that it was intentional. The Democrats wanted an emotional issue to garner votes for the next election. The Dreamers, as a result, were and are being used as pawns.
Although it was supposed to be a secret, the educated, savvy Dreamers see what’s happening to them politically. They are unhappy with the legal limbo in which they find themselves and have discovered a new target to blame for their precarious situation – the Democrats. They are complaining, rightfully so, that the Congressional Democratic have repeatedly failed to pass the Dream Act that would protect them since it had been introduced in 2001.
Maria Duarte, a DACA recipient, noted that “the Democrats made the calculation to kick the can down the road and allow hundreds of thousands of us undocumented youth to live in uncertainty. We are anxious and we are scared of being torn away from our homes and our community.”
President Trump understood that the inept Congress would not formulize DACA protection, and he taunted the Democrats on the March deadline. On the advice of constitutional scholars, Trump declared the DACA program unconstitutional and gave the Congress six months to legislate it. Nothing was done.
Even the liberal groups are beginning to see the light. They blame Senate minority leader Charles Schumer for not uniting Democrats behind a hard-line strategy. Angela Padilla, policy director for a Trump resistance group called Indivisible, said, “This is on Schumer. His most important job is to keep the caucus together; their (the Democrats’) reluctance to enact legislation protecting Dreamers has exposed a rift among Democrats with immigration advocates.”
President Trump, recently addressing a conference of Hispanic business owners, blamed Democrats for the lack of an agreement on DACA. “They don’t want to solve the problem. They would rather use it to get elected. The Democrats are nowhere to be found.” He also said, “The Democrats had also stood in the way of immigration measures to strengthen the border and confront immigrant gangs.”
It is time for the Congress to get off their soap box and stop negating everything the Trump administration sends their way and start accomplishing meaningful legislation on their own as the Constitution stipulates them to do. Solving the DACA problem would be a good start.
Cynthia Zalisky is the Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org