A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that will leave in place terms of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, for a period of months or longer should have been welcomed by Congress as an opportunity to get to work on a long-term solution on the status of “Dreamers” and potentially other immigration-related policy. Unfortunately, it appears instead that lawmakers will deliberately ignore the issue until after the midterm elections in November.
This is not what the public wants, according to numerous polls. A recent survey by CNN shows 83 percent of Americans want the Obama-era program that offers protection to about 800,000 immigrants brought to the country as children to continue. We would hope that congressional leaders would summon the fortitude to address this issue in a positive fashion as soon as possible and not treat it as a political hot potato best tossed into the corner until a new Congress appears in January. But congressional leaders have now admitted the issue will likely not be addressed until after the next House and Senate races.
That’s clearly because, despite broad public support for DACA, enough congressional representatives serve districts in which anti-immigration sentiment is high enough to present a potential roadblock to their re-election. They don’t want to risk offending a voter base that stands firm against any immigration-related legislation it views as a form of “amnesty.” The entrenched obstinacy of this somewhat small but vocal voting segment has made it impossible thus far for Washington to even consider a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, including action on DACA.
While we have long supported comprehensive reform, we acknowledge that the current political atmosphere may mean it is more effective to move incrementally. The first step should be resolution of DACA. President Donald Trump’s order to rescind the program has been blocked by two federal court rulings, which the Supreme Court has left in place until the case makes its way back to the high court, probably not for months or longer.
The administration and Congress were close to resolving the issue with a proposal that lumped a DACA solution together with funding for a border wall and changes to immigrant qualification policies. But that effort was also waylaid by reluctance among politicians to take stand on a measure that contained elements constituencies on both sides of the aisle might find objectionable.32 comments on this story
Regardless of what happens on Election Day, it’s imperative Congress and the White House work toward resolving DACA in a way that grants this group of young people an American future with opportunity and certainty. We would hope resolution of DACA might pave the way for additional legislation to deal with all the frayed ends of current immigration policy, including border security, visa qualification requirements and enforcement guidelines. The current situation is untenable. Millions of immigrants are in a situation of not knowing what their future may hold. Federal immigration agents, operating without clear direction, seem in many instances to be enforcing deportation orders inconsistently and somewhat randomly from region to region.
The failure of the current Congress to effectively deal with this constitutes dereliction of duty. It now appears the country is left only with hope that whatever the political makeup of a new Congress might be next year, it will find the strength to address an immigration system whose current operations are incoherent and too often inhumane.