Trump’s threats may push Congress to help Dreamers
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.