Trump’s threats may push Congress to help Dream­ers

The Palm Beach Post - - OPINION: THE DEBATE STARTS HERE - Mary Sanchez She writes for the Kansas City Star.

My, my, pol­i­tics in the age of Trump can be baf­fling.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, a man who loves to bully and threaten, may ac­tu­ally have done a huge fa­vor to one of his fa­vorite scape­goats — im­mi­grants here il­le­gally — by threat­en­ing to de­port them.

Specif­i­cally, he threw out the pos­si­bil­ity that 800,000 young im­mi­grants who were brought to the U.S. as mi­nors may have to be de­ported. That has forced some of his fel­low Repub­li­cans to muster some courage.

For 16 years, Repub­li­cans in Congress have re­jected some ver­sion of the DREAM Act, which would let im­mi­grants brought to the U.S. as kids re­main here legally as long as they meet cer­tain re­quire­ments. There is no good rea­son why such le­gal re­lief should have been de­nied th­ese “Dream­ers.” There has been only a bad rea­son: the pol­i­tics of di­vi­sive­ness and prej­u­dice that has been the call­ing card of the hard-right GOP and of Trump him­self.

But as Trump’s public image cur­dles, more mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans have found a voice. Lis­ten to Sen. Roy Blunt, of Mis­souri. It would be “to­tally un­rea­son­able” to make the Dream­ers “go back and live in a coun­try that they didn’t grow up in,” he told re­porters. “And we want to have all the tal­ent and ca­pa­bil­ity we can have” in the United States.

In that short com­ment, Blunt ar­tic­u­lated a just and prag­matic view.

Blunt added that the

U.S. should of­fer a route to full ci­ti­zen­ship, and that per­haps lan­guage to that ef­fect should be in­cluded in the spend­ing bill that must pass by Dec. 8.

In Septem­ber, Trump an­nounced that he would end the 5-year-old pro­gram be­gun un­der Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Obama cre­ated the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, or DACA, pro­gram by ex­ec­u­tive or­der be­cause Congress had stalled.

DACA was not de­signed to be, nor could it be, a per­ma­nent fix. That’s the job of Congress.

In the mean­time, the Dream­ers have been their own best ad­vo­cates.

They showed up last week at con­gres­sional of­fices, protest­ing for ac­tion. More than a dozen were ar­rested at the Hart Se­nate Build­ing. Noth­ing could be more Amer­i­can than that.

The Dream­ers have stud­ied the Con­sti­tu­tion and civil rights his­tory along­side their U.S.-born school­mates. They want to be Amer­i­cans, and only a le­gal tech­ni­cal­ity pre­vents this dream from be­ing re­al­ized.

Repub­li­cans have al­ways known this, es­pe­cially the brave hand­ful who have stal­wartly sup­ported leg­isla­tive re­lief for the Dream­ers, such as Sen. John McCain.

Trump, by con­trast, has swung like a weather vane. When he needs to sound benev­o­lent, he’ll cast a kind word or two their way. When he wants to rile his base or dis­tress his op­po­nents, he bun­dles the Dream­ers in with the “bad hom­bres.”

Some ob­servers have spec­u­lated that, if pushed, Trump will do that right thing. Maybe, but if so he will need cover. Alone, a Pres­i­dent Trump will not con­tinue any pro­gram con­cocted by Obama.

It’s long been un­der­stood that a coali­tion of un­easy bed­fel­lows would be nec­es­sary to re­solve the plight of the Dream­ers.

It would be rich if the pres­i­dent who used their ten­u­ous le­gal tie to the U.S. to get elected, in the end, be­came the force un­der which their sta­tus was fi­nally and per­ma­nently re­solved.

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