Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
DACA is a dilemma — a moral dilemma, a legal dilemma, and a sociological dilemma. And this assessment is coming from someone fervently in favor of deporting illegal aliens.
Illegal aliens are a drain on the American economy, particularly, what they are stealing from taxpaying Americans and legal residents; and by living in this country illegally, stealing is exactly what they are doing, a crime to be added to that of breaking and entering.
As there is no such animal as government money, those miscreants in the United States illegally are stealing from us — we the people — those of us who fund the government with our tax dollars. Illegals steal from us in the form of education by having children attend the public schools, older children being granted in-state tuition rates on the college and university level, free medical care and hospitalization, food stamps, welfare, as well as forcing legally licensed and insured drivers to pay increased rates for what is called uninsured motorist.
That is the tale of many of the at least 12 million people who reside in these United States illegally — people who made the willful decision to enter this country without permission or who overstayed their one-time legal welcome via a student visa, for example.
There is also the joint issue of jobs and employment. Illegals are taking jobs real Americans should be performing, thus keeping unemployment artificially inflated. The problem here is that both major political parties are complicit in this, and for different reasons. Democrats want illegals to be granted immunity, legalized, and ultimately given citizenship that will help bolster Democrat voter rolls. Naturally, the Democrats support illegals holding jobs in this country to strengthen their case. As for the Republicans, they turn a blind eye to illegals holding employment in this country because it improves their position with large companies hoping to keep costs down. Either way, this is a deleterious circumstance for lower income Americans forced to compete with illegals for limited employment positions.
This is part of the repercussion of the failed amnesty of 1986 granted by President Ronald Reagan, forced upon him by the overwhelmingly Democrat Congress. Roughly three million, three decades ago, ultimately swelled to more than four times that amount, although, to be sure, an accurate accounting of those in the US illegally may never be fully known or appreciated.The carrots were plentiful, while the sticks were in absentia. Those who willingly broke the law by entering the United States illegally, should be deported at a cost to their countries of origin.
However, with regard to the DACA, things are not so cut and dried. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) concerns the children of illegals who were unwittingly spirited out of their countries of origins at ages too young to either object or know any better. These are now young adults roughly in their mid-20s who more often than not, did not choose to sneak into the United States illegally, yet here they are, sans legal status or citizenship and they live and work among us.
For the overwhelming majority of the roughly 800,000 “DACA recipients,” a.k.a. DREAMers (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), the United States is the only country they know; English is their primary, if not only language; they have attended school in the United States, and in many cases only learned they are in this country illegally when attempting to apply to college or for employment and are required to demonstrate proof of citizenship.
Herein lies the dilemma. While it is easy to endorse the deportation of miscreant illegals for their willful lawbreaking, or deny them services or seats in classrooms, the DACA people fall into a different category. More than a fair number of conservatives believe the right thing to do is allow DACA people the right to remain in the United States and even become citizens. While I draw the line at citizenship, and ultimately voting rights, granting them permanent legal status is the moral path to be traversed. It would be morally wrong to deport these people to places that have not been their homes in possibly two decades to a world of the cultural and linguistic abyss.
From a legal standpoint, it is vital to remember that DACA is an illegal program established by Barack Obama via an executive order in 2012. Remember that anyone in this country illegally has broken the law whether civil or criminal, it matters not. It is up to the Congress to grant legal status upon the DACA people, or not. With Congressionally conferred legal status, they can then work legally, have legal status identification, and would no longer reside in legal limbo.
But as noted before, the failings of the 1986 amnesty must not be replicated, only in 2018 they would be four times worse. Carrots need be met with concomitant sticks, and those sticks must take the form of the wall across the southern border, as well as the end of chain migration and the visa lottery. Legal immigration based upon meritocracy must be adopted — just as is done in Australia and Canada. While I have long been a proponent of singular issue bills standing on their own merit, sans riders and pork, this is one time where the granting of legal status must be linked in the same legislation with the funding for the wall as well as the end on chain migration and the visa lottery. The art of compromise means there is something to aggravate everybody.
Historically, the Democrats have been weak on border security and strong on advocating for a path to citizenship for illegals. “There is not a Democrat that is not for a secure border,” said US Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), adding that “no Democrats want to make sure our military isn’t funded,” but that they are also concerned with domestic issues. In spite of his assertions, Hoyer still called for separate bills where DACA is adjudicated first, then border security. Seems Hoyer is being both disingenuous and recalcitrant about genuine immigration reform.
Additionally, Senator Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL) expressed his chief concern regarding the possibility of DACA recipients being deported, noting that 2,500 alone are school teachers in his state of Illinois. That statement is beyond daunting. How are these people actually teaching legally in the state of Illinois without proof of United States citizenship? Substitute teachers in practically every state, and certainly in each state where I have taught, are required to demonstrate American citizenship, let alone full time teachers. It’s not xenophobia to expect people to follow the rule of law.
It also isn’t racist to expect accuracy in reporting. Far too many defenders of DACA people aver that they are eager to serve in the United States military. Yet, according to CBS News, the Pentagon reports fewer than 900 DACA recipients are serving in the armed forces.
This is part of the dilemma referenced earlier — on the one hand, inaccurate information being bandied about, but simultaneously, hardworking people, albeit illegally, but dedicated to doing so. Most are attempting to live their “American” dream, and being brought to the United States typically beyond their control, should be able to live as legal residents — my form of compromise — neither deport nor grant citizenship – but legal residents out of the shadows.
No one has the right to become an American citizen. No one has the right to live in the United States. These are privileges determined and conferred by birth and observance of the rule of law. We welcome legal immigrants to the United States; legal immigrants who will contribute to the betterment of this country, and not attempt to recreate their country of origin, which, if that is their goal, we should ask ourselves why they left in the first place. Immigrants who join the United States as part of the melting pot it has become over the past three centuries, and not attempt to balkanize this nation into a conglomeration of ethnic enclaves determined to segregate themselves from the rest of society and then complain that the majority does not adhere to their cultural lifestyles.
If anything, many of the DACA people have become part of the fabric of America, the embodiment of what an American should strive to become, and in turn make America great again. Borrowing from one of my favorite American Indian adages, DACA immigrants should also endeavor to leave America better than they found it, as we all should — paying it forward to future generations of Americans.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.