In political terms, finding a way to help the children of undocumented immigrants, who came here through no fault of their own, is the low-hanging fruit of immigration reform.
Many politicians on both sides of the aisle, including President Donald Trump, seem to agree that these people, American in every way except through official citizenship, should not be deported. They should be given a quick path to citizenship and a full opportunity to succeed and contribute to society.
Legislatively, this should not be hard to accomplish. Certainly, lawmakers should have no excuse for shutting down the government next month because of a failure to do so.
On Friday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which owns this newspaper) issued a statement calling on national leaders to “create policies that provide hope and opportunities” for these children, also known as “Dreamers.” The statement was careful not to endorse “any specific legislative or executive solution.”
“They have built lives, pursued educational opportunities and been employed for years based on the policies that were in place,” the church statement said of the Dreamers. “These individuals have demonstrated a capacity to serve and contribute positively in our society, and we believe they should be granted the opportunity to continue to do so.”
Other churches, including the Catholic Church, have urged similar solutions. Polls have shown that about two-thirds of evangelicals also support extending compassion to these young people.
Together, the influence of churches and religious Americans should have an enormous influence on lawmakers. The compassionate treatment of such victims of circumstance says a lot about who we are as Americans.
A new plan similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program currently is a bargaining chip in the struggle to keep the federal government funded, pitted against a border wall and other immigration issues. That’s an uneven equation. The need to treat the Dreamers with compassion is far more important than the other issues at stake.
The president is offering a plan that would provide a path toward citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers. That compares to the Obama-era DACA program, which covers less than 700,000.
Officials have said Trump’s plan would contain some sort of requirements for moral character. He also has proposed new restrictions on family-based immigration.
We do not support restrictions on family-based immigration, and increased border security must be approached realistically. A lengthened border wall would not bring an end to illegal migration.67 comments on this story
However, politicians could surely broker deals on these issues that satisfy all sides while keeping families intact.
After many years of wrangling, Congress now seems close to an actual solution to one of the most substantive parts of immigration reform. If a divided Washington can solve the needs of Dreamers, perhaps that momentum could lead to solutions to other immigration problems, as well.
As long as compassion is a driving force behind those efforts, the American people, and those who want to come here to contribute, will be well served.