For well over 100 years we’ve struggled with immigration. Beginning in the 1850s large numbers of citizens from China came to our shores, many to help construct the transcontinental railroad which was completed in 1869. But many Americans of European descent looked on these immigrants with suspicion and in 1882 President Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886) he signed the Chinese Exclusion Act. It made Chinese immigration nearly impossible. In fairness it also excluded “paupers, criminals, and lunatics.”
In 1924 the United States first began to restrict immigration by placing quotas on the number of people from each country can come here. I have no desire to wade into the complexities of our immigration system, but suffice it to say that more people want to come here than legally can.
And we continue to struggle to create a policy that respects our laws while at the same time recognizes that we are a nation of immigrants. Our pride for the Statue of Liberty shows this.
Our complicated history of “we are a nation of immigrants” vs. “we don’t trust people who don’t look like us” frames our frustration today.
And in the middle of this debate we find a group of young men and women we call “Dreamers.” They were brought to the United States as children. Their parents came here without going through the process of immigrating; simply put, they snuck in. But they did this because the process of legal immigration made legal entry essentially impossible.
However you feel about the adults, clearly their children cannot be held as lawbreakers. They came here and enrolled in school. By and large they did well and think of themselves as Americans; many speak only English and if deported they have no place to go.
In 2012 President Barack Obama ordered that they be protected and allowed to stay. As long as they came here before their 16th birthday, stayed in school, and did not break any laws, they could stay here and work legally. He called this order DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
He’s never been known for his consistency but here he’s playing with the lives of real people. Last week he announced he would decide tomorrow, September 5th.
As I write this, it appears he will delay ending it by six months in the hopes that Congress will create legislation that will protect the dreamers. I imagine this gives the dreamers no relief as Congress appears to show no more compassion or maturity than the President.
Simply put, protecting the Dreamers benefits them, but also benefits us. Their conviction rate is 0% and they are educated. In other words, they are exactly what we are looking for. We gain nothing by deporting them because their parents came here to make a better lives for them.