In support of DACA

There are just some things that defy my comprehension. I consider myself to be of at least average intelligence, but every now and then, a decision will be made that leaves me at an utter loss of understanding.

In this instance, I am referring to the recent decision by the Trump administration to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program — a move that leaves nearly 800,000 young people in a sort of legal limbo. That the administration gave congress six months to come up with a long-term solution is potentially positive, but with the bitterness, acrimony and lack of willingness to compromise by most everyone in Washington, I’m not holding my breath that anything will be accomplished. The cynic in me says that the Administration did this in an attempt to broker a deal for the wall — i.e., the “Dreamers” as they are called, may stay, in exchange for congressional approval of funds to build the wall — a multi-billion dollar boondoggle in my opinion.

It is unfortunate that our immigration debate has become so political. I think that most of us would agree that there is a need for some type of comprehensive immigration policy. For example, I know of no one that is in favor of allowing bomb-totting anarchists or drug cartels to immigrate to the United States. And once we all agree upon that, then the debate is really over “where” we draw the line, not whether or not one needs to be drawn.

In the current situation, DACA was implemented by Presidential order (which arguably wasn’t the best way to create this safety net, but considering the lack of compromise that existed at the time, it may have been the only way for this to be achieved). The basic tenant of DACA is that if you were a child whose parents came to this country, you weren’t going to be deported. To be eligible, each person seeking DACA status had to apply. They were screened predicated upon several factors, which included attending school or serving in the military, along with passing a criminal background check. The DACA kids aren’t street thugs and hooligans. They are responsible young people seeking access to the American Dream and a better way of life for themselves.

Interestingly the Trump Administration has already approved over 200,000 DACA applications so it appears that the administration wasn’t really questioning the legality of the order, but rather was fulfilling a campaign promise and posturing for a more comprehensive immigration policy, which while most of us would probably agree is long overdue, will be nearly impossible (nearly?) to achieve in six months.

Think for a moment about the youngsters that are now exposed to potential deportation. Many of them don’t even speak Spanish. They are “cultural Americans” having grown up in this country. Many of them have siblings born subsequent to their parents’ arrival in this country that are American citizens. Are we really going to create a situation where we are separating children from their families? And for what?? We are not talking about deporting a criminal element. In reality, a young man or woman who served in the military and was deployed overseas fighting for our freedoms could be sent back to the country of their parents’ origin — a place they may never have even visited.

I am “pro-life” along with many of my Republican colleagues, but I’ve always thought that “pro-life” wasn’t merely a quantitative stance, but rather a qualitative one as well. It is anathema to me to see someone claiming the “moral high ground” relative to abortion, turning a blind eye to the potential suffering of these 800,000 young people who have done absolutely nothing wrong. They were brought here by their parents as children — often as infants and their only crime is the “sins of the father/mother being visited upon the generations.” If you are truly “pro-life” then I challenge you to muster the same level of outrage at the decision to rescind DACA as you might at a pro-life rally.

As a practicing Christian, I can see nothing in the teachings of the New Testament that suggests an “out” here. In fact we are called to “love our neighbor” and to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” When I hear people who claim affiliation with the church supporting this draconian move, I’m saddened and wonder if we even worship the same God.

It is imperative that we solve this problem in an appropriate manner. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent, our collective conscience should demand that we do the right thing and find a way to allow the DACA youth to remain in this country. President Trump gave the Congress six months to fix this. That means that we all must start contacting our Legislators today and expressing our desire to see this great country — a country of immigrants — find a solution that is predicated upon our collective humanity and one that supports the “Dreamers” as they dream of and live in our great country.

Westfall can be reached at mammothrun@gmail.com.