KEVIN LEVY, PUSHING FORWARD
ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN BETTER ANGELS
The often-vitriolic immigration debate has reared its horned head again with the recent announcement from the White House that President Trump would rescind President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. Talking heads have surfaced to talk about the need for DACA (from the left) and about its utter unconstitutionality (from the right). Here, I echo the concerns of my colleague at Pushing Forward who wrote that Trump’s ending of the DACA program is morally and economically wrong.
Donald Trump has long campaigned on the notion of “law and order.” So much so that when Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the rescindment, she said that “it’s not cold-hearted” for President Trump to “uphold the law” in rescinding employment and deportation protections from young people who have been in the United States for most of their lives.
Many conversations around the immigration debate revolve around the concept of procedure. “I don’t care about immigration—I care about illegal immigration,” or so goes the normal objection. A modern obsession with immigration lines and national doors has forced its way into the middle of a deeply emotionally charged debate.
DACA recipients, or Dreamers as they are more commonly known, came to this country as children. They mostly came to the United States alongside their parents who, admittedly, came illegally. Instead of focusing on the route that Dreamers and their families took on their way to the United States, politicos should focus on the why.
We Americans have long prided ourselves on being citizens of the Land of Opportunity. In America, your future is not (or should not be) determined by the circumstances of your birth. Some undocumented immigrants came to the United States for that opportunity. Some, rather, fled their home countries to find a safe haven. In either event, Dreamers and their families have stayed in the United States because of the promise of the American Dream.
Immigration is a tough issue for Republicans and Democrats. Democrats will always get hit with the “Amnesty!” charge whereas Republicans will be lambasted for their lack of compassion. For me, the proper approach to immigration doesn’t revolve around numbers or statistics. It should be a debate about the American Dream. The lauded plaque on the base of the Statue of Liberty does not read “Give me your educated, your doctors, your two-child nuclear families yearning to breathe luxuriously” for a reason
Our immigration debate should stress American sovereignty and empathy. We should have border security, but we should also harken back to our immigrant roots. Rescinding DACA isn’t only bad immigration policy—putting millions of taxpayers at risk of deportation—but it is bad moral policy for the nation. The Mother of Exiles cares not for immigration quotas or working visas, but rather for the American spirit, hopefully not of ages past.