Attorney General Jeff Sessions supplied the deception. President Donald Trump added a dollop of confusion and threw the whole uncooked mess into Congress’ lap when he fulfilled a campaign pledge to deport undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children.
Congress must enact permanent protections to replace the stopgap order that Trump and Sessions rescinded, though it won’t be easy to reach consensus on any immigration bill, even among the Republicans who control the government.
We don’t punish young people in this country for their parents’ actions. Polls show voters overwhelmingly oppose deporting immigrants who arrived as children.
Many of the almost 800,000 who registered for background checks under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals remember living nowhere else and have no connections in other countries. They were on average six when the United States became their home.
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Trump is giving DACA participants six months before their protection from deportation ends — and he’s giving Congress six months to enact a permanent fix. DACA participants have only until Oct. 5 to renew their permits. If their permits expire after March 5, they cannot renew.
Republicans in Kentucky’s delegation, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, applauded Trump’s decision to end DACA but were vague or silent about what should come next.
In unveiling the decision Tuesday, Sessions blamed the policy for denying jobs to “hundreds of thousands of Americans.” But job creation is more complex than the zero-sum game imagined by an AG who appears eager to stir up animosity toward immigrants.
More than 400 business executives, including CEOs of General Motors and Apple, called on Trump to save the protections — not just because DACA participants work but also because they consume, supporting all kinds of economic activity.
More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle and 16 percent have purchased their first home, according to the CEOs.
In Kentucky — where immigrant labor is critical not just to the agrarian Thoroughbred and tobacco industries but also to construction and manufacturing — more than 3,000 people have been approved for DACA.
Contrary to what Sessions said, the Obama-era order confers no legal status. It guarantees only a chance to get an education and hold a job without fear of deportation.
Sessions implied that DACA gives undocumented immigrants the same benefits as citizens, which is not true of most benefits, including food stamps and federal college aid.
Like anyone who has a work permit and pays into Social Security and Medicare, DACA enrollees are not barred from receiving those benefits. But that’s decades away.
Most are now in their 20s. They had to be younger than 31 in June 2012, to have come to the U.S. while they were younger than 16 and to have been here since 2007. So now they are paying into Social Security and Medicare trust funds, as well as paying taxes.
President Barack Obama put DACA in place in 2012 after repeated failures by Congress to pass the DREAM Act which provided a path to permanent residency for childhood arrivals.
Trump tweeted that if Congress fails to “legalize DACA” in six months “I will revisit this issue!” This raised speculation that he would protect Dreamers, even though Sessions insisted that Obama’s order was unconstitutional because Congress had refused to approve its protections.
Under Sessions’ reasoning, it’s unclear how Trump could revisit the issue.
In other words, Congress should get busy.
This editorial was corrected to clarify that DACA participants have only until Oct. 5 to renew their permits under the program.