Less ag­o­niz­ing, more or­ga­niz­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Cokie and Steve Roberts Colum­nists Steve and Cokie Roberts can be con­tacted by email at steve­cokie@gmail.com.

Where was all this pas­sion dur­ing the cam­paign? Now, op­po­nents of Don­ald Trump are in­censed and out­raged. Stu­dents are walk­ing out of class­rooms and cam­puses. Two protest marches will descend on the cap­i­tal in Jan­uary. A meet­ing of lib­eral ac­tivists was “in­tense, an­gry and un­for­giv­ing,” re­ports The New York Times.

“This is a cri­sis of un­par­al­leled di­men­sion,” warned Wade Hen­der­son of the Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence on Civil and Hu­man Rights.

His fears are cer­tainly justified, but hey, folks -- elec­tions have con­se­quences. Clin­ton faced a per­sis­tent en­thu­si­asm gap through­out the cam­paign. If all the emo­tion and en­ergy now being poured into ag­o­niz­ing had gone into or­ga­niz­ing, the out­come might have been dif­fer­ent.

Check out these telling sta­tis­tics. With some bal­lots still out­stand­ing, Clin­ton has about 63.7 mil­lion votes com­pared to Barack Obama’s 65.4 mil­lion in 2012 and al­most 67 mil­lion in 2008. In the three states that de­cided the elec­tion -- Penn­syl­va­nia, Wis­con­sin and Michi­gan -Clin­ton lost by a com­bined to­tal of only 100,000 votes.

The stay-at-homers and nev­er­min­ders were es­pe­cially dam­ag­ing in crit­i­cal com­po­nents of the Obama coali­tion. The pres­i­dent won 60 per­cent of young vot­ers four years ago; Clin­ton’s rate slumped to 56 per­cent. Clin­ton trailed Obama’s per­for­mance by 5 points with African-Amer­i­cans and by 6 points with Lati­nos.

But as Sen. El­iz­a­beth Warren puts it: “The time for whim­per­ing, the time for whin­ing, the time for cry­ing is over. It is time to fight back.” And if the whin­ers and whim­per­ers want an is­sue to “fight back” on, here’s a sug­ges­tion: the fate of the 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants now in this county, es­pe­cially the ap­prox­i­mately 2 mil­lion young peo­ple who were brought here as chil­dren and who have grown up as Amer­i­cans.

About 800,000 of these “Dream­ers” qual­i­fied for DACA (De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals), an Obama pro­gram that shielded the young­sters from de­por­ta­tion and al­lowed them to ob­tain work per­mits, driver’s li­censes and a sense of hope and safety.

All that is now in jeop­ardy. Don­ald Trump’s choice for At­tor­ney Gen­eral, Sen. Jeff Ses­sions of Alabama, boasts on his web­site that he’s a “lead­ing op­po­nent” of Pres­i­dent Obama’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies. Dream­ers are now pet­ri­fied that Ses­sions and Trump could use the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided on their DACA ap­pli­ca­tions to track them down and toss them out.

That should not hap­pen. These Dream­ers, and their whole fam­i­lies, are an enor­mous as­set to this coun­try. They should be wel­comed with a hand­shake, not threat­ened with a fist.

For­tu­nately, the cam­paign to defend them is al­ready in gear.

Obama said he would tell Trump to “think long and hard” about “en­dan­ger­ing that sta­tus of what, for all prac­ti­cal pur­poses, are Amer­i­can kids.” Democrats on Capi­tol Hill are pre­par­ing leg­is­la­tion to pre­serve the pro­gram, and they have pub­lic opin­ion be­hind them. In exit polls, 70 per­cent of vot­ers said un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants should be of­fered some form of “le­gal sta­tus.” Only 25 per­cent said they should be de­ported.

About 200 col­lege pres­i­dents have signed a state­ment back­ing DACA that says, “We have seen the crit­i­cal ben­e­fits of this pro­gram for our stu­dents, and the highly pos­i­tive im­pacts on our in­sti­tu­tions and com­mu­ni­ties. DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries on our cam­puses have been ex­em­plary stu­dent schol­ars and stu­dent leaders, work­ing across cam­pus and in the com­mu­nity.”

One prime op­por­tu­nity for lever­age will be the Se­nate hear­ings on Ses­sions’ nom­i­na­tion. If he can­not be de­feated -- a small pos­si­bil­ity -- he should be pressed hard on DACA and pre­sented with the real-world, re­al­life im­pli­ca­tions of his wrong­headed im­pulses.

Ses­sions should hear from peo­ple like 29-year-old Eli Oh, who em­i­grated from South Korea at age 11 and worked as a waiter un­til DACA gave him the chance to pur­sue a nurs­ing ca­reer. To­day he’s a crit­i­cal-care nurse at Stan­ford Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

If all those post-elec­tion pro­test­ers re­ally want to make a con­tri­bu­tion, pre­serv­ing DACA and pro­tect­ing the Dream­ers is a win­ning and wor­thy cause.

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