Tags: Donald Trump | Immigration | Russia | mcconnell | truman | undocumented

Trump's Immigration Toss to Congress Is Nightmare for Dreamers

Trump's Immigration Toss to Congress Is Nightmare for Dreamers
Immigrant rights supporters erase words from giant letters which read Dream Act, to symbolize support of Congress passing a 'Clean Dream Act' that will prevent the deportation of young immigrants known as Dreamers working and studying in the U.S., Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, in Miami, Florida. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Monday, 22 January 2018 04:16 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Have you ever visited a foreign country where you didn't speak the language, didn't know anyone, and were unaccompanied by anybody (friend, tour leader, etc.) who could help you find your way? How would you have felt if you were prevented from leaving that country and were forced to live there for the rest of your life?

Or imagine you were born in America but your parents moved to Russia when you were two. Later, at the age of 20, your undocumented status is discovered and you are deported to the U.S.

Brought up in a very different culture, your schooling has been entirely in Russian schools, you think in Russian, and you dream in Russian. In your dreams, you have professional and personal plans. You are engaged to a Russian. All your friends are Russians.

Like a tourist stranded in an alien land, you wouldn't know anybody if forced to "return" to America. Your academic credentials would probably be worthless and you would have no friends. You would be a stranger in a strange land. Although the U.S. has a stronger economy and a better political system than Russia, that wouldn't compensate for your cultural disadvantages here.

Enough of these scenarios! They are my attempts to encourage readers to put themselves in the shoes of an American "Dreamer," to understand the pain inflicting by the current debate in Washington, D.C. and to see the utter injustice of what is being threatened.

As everyone knows, these young Dreamers are here through no personal fault. They have been brought up as Americans and think like Americans, their friends are Americans, their spouses may be Americans, any children are Americans. The older ones attend college, have jobs, or are serving in the military. They speak English and probably nothing much else.

But Donald Trump, seizing on the procedural irregularity by which the Obama administration protected them from the unfairness of our laws as applied to them, rescinded that protection by executive decree. On doing so, Mr. Trump piously indicated that Congress could and should fix the problem he was creating.

Mr. Trump should have known, however, what a problem he was causing by tossing this mess to Congress. Although most Americans favor protecting the Dreamers, important blocs of voters might tip the balance against politicians voting to protect them. And Trump himself has sabotaged bipartisan efforts to protect Dreamers, insisting that he won't sign the bill unless it also contains provisions for "border security," a vague term that includes building his famous, or infamous, "wall."

Most recently, the administration insisted it won't even talk about a legislative fix until the government, "shut down" over disagreement about Dreamers, is opened back up by what could be, in effect, total capitulation to his demands.

As to a "wall," nearly half of "undocumented" people did not come in illegally across the southern border. They came in legally but then stayed longer than they were supposed to. A wall wouldn't address this, but there are less drastic, and far less expensive, measures that could fix it.

Are we to believe that the U.S. could herd millions of people into cattle cars, like Stalin did to national minorities in the Soviet Union, and deport them to Mexico? Do we want to live in a country where the government is allowed even to think about doing this?

To use the fate of Dreamers, who have done nothing wrong, as a bargaining chip in partisan political battles should be beneath the dignity of President Trump and congressional leaders. That which must not be done must also not be threatened.

When our government has failed to enforce its residency laws for many decades, and generations of undocumented people have grown up here, it would be highly immoral to deport them to countries in which they have no connections and no hope.

Although a government "shutdown" is awkward and could damage our economy, I hope Democrats will hang tough and not capitulate to presidential blackmail. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says that Republicans need to know where President Trump stands before they can decide what to do, but he needs to rethink this.

It is impossible to find out where Trump stands because he doesn't know himself. Republicans and Democrats should negotiate a deal about the Dreamers without clearing it first with the president and then submit it to Mr. Trump, denying him the ability to wash his hands of it and forcing him to sign it or veto it.

Congress could thus force the president to stop talking out of both sides of his mouth about the Dreamers. As the famous sign on Harry Truman's desk proclaimed, "The buck stops here."

Paul F. deLespinasse is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Computer Science at Adrian College. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1966, and has been a National Merit Scholar, an NDEA Fellow, a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and a Fellow in Law and Political Science at the Harvard Law School. His college textbook, "Thinking About Politics: American Government in Associational Perspective," was published 1981 and his most recent book is "The Case of the Racist Choir Conductor: Struggling With America's Original Sin." His columns have appeared in newspapers in Michigan, Oregon, and a number of other states. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Mr. Trump should have known what a problem he was causing by tossing this mess to Congress. That which must not be done must also not be threatened. It is impossible to find out where Trump stands because he doesn't know himself.
mcconnell, truman, undocumented
Monday, 22 January 2018 04:16 PM
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