Tag Archives: DACA

Immigration reform: It’s not dead!

Reforming our nation’s immigration policy is among the top-tier issues that needs congressional attention when the next Congress convenes next month.

Having laid down that predicate, I want to declare that I do not have a magic formula to offer on this blog. There, I just made that declaration.

But I want our political leaders — namely the MAGA types and those who want to build walls around the country — to stop demagoguing the issue and demonizing those who seek entry into The Land of Opportunity.

A multi-faceted approach is in order.

We need to streamline the asylum-seeking process. We need to remove the threats to eliminating the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals — aka DACA — program for those who entered the country illegally. We ought to allow DACA recipients who have resided in this country and who want to attend college to pay in-state tuition to our public colleges and universities, something we have tried in Texas.

Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and declared war on illegal immigration and illegal immigrants. I get that our immigration problems have spiraled into crisis. The then-POTUS, though, imposed a ban on any Muslim who wanted to enter the country; he vowed to build a wall along our southern border and make “Mexico pay for it”; we haven’t developed a coherent immigration policy, let alone any meaningful reforms for decades.

President George W. Bush sought immigration reform during his two terms in office. President Barack H. Obama followed him and he, too, pushed for reforming our immigration policy … to no avail. Trump failed as well.

Now it falls on President Joe Biden. He and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are hearing reckless rhetoric about “impeachment” over the immigration matter.

How about settling down and getting to work on a bipartisan measure that seeks to streamline the process for those seeking asylum while giving the Dreamers reason to hope that the only country they ever have known will welcome them as future citizens?


Dreamers: collateral casualties

Let’s be clear about something: If Republicans take control of Congress after the midterm election, you can rest assured that their onslaught will inflict plenty of collateral casualties.

I want to look briefly at one category of casualty: Dreamers, those who were brought to this country as children when their parents entered the United States without proper immigrant documentation.

The Dreamers who live among us — and they no doubt are in more places than we realize — are going to singled out by Republicans who insist that they are here illegally and, therefore, must be deported.

Many of those Dreamers qualified under a program enacted by President Obama called the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals; Obama issued an order that protected DACA recipients from deportation, enabling them to seek citizenship or apply for permanent legal resident status.

Republicans detest DACA. They want it rescinded. The courts have dented the program along the way.

DACA recipients deserve to be protected against inhumane deportation, which would result in sending them back to the country of their birth. Why is that inhumane? Because they came of age in the United States of America. This is the only country the know. In many cases, they are U.S. residents who have contributed greatly to their country of residence.

Furthermore, I am saddened by the notion that some GOP pols want to punish these Dreamers for the sins of their parents. I get that the parents broke the law when they sneaked into the country when border security guards were looking the other way. It simply boggles my noggin that pols would want to punish the children — some of whom were infants and toddlers when they entered the United States — for something over which they had zero control!

Furthermore, many of those youngsters have grown into men and women who are contributing mightily to their nation of residence. They have excelled in the classroom; they have pursued professions and paid their taxes.

Punish them? Send them away? Someone will have to explain the logic behind that hideous form of revenge.

That is what might await many of these individuals if Republicans take control of our legislative branch of government. God help us all.


Praying for DACA recipients

I am going to say my prayers tonight. Yes, I think often of my family and pray for their good health and safety and for my friends, many of whom have suffered death in their family.

I also am going to pray for the survival of a humane and to my mind a  totally acceptable public policy. The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals needs to stay on the books. Why? Because it grants U.S. residents who were brought here as children protection from being deported … even though they have done nothing wrong as de facto Americans.

The Texas Tribune reports: In 2018, Texas and other Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the federal government arguing that the Obama administration overreached its power by creating an immigration program without Congress’ approval. The lawsuit has led to a yearslong legal battle.

DACA recipients prepare for possible end of program as court ruling looms | The Texas Tribune

DACA came into being as the result of an executive order issued by President Obama. It is meant to protect those who came here as children, some of whom were infants and toddlers. Many thousands of these children have grown into responsible adults; they have paid their taxes; many of them have achieved academic excellence.

What’s more, they did all of this in the only country they ever have known. Those who were brought here as children only did so because they were too young to act independently.

And now some of us want them deported? To a country they don’t know? It is inhumane to the max to punish these DACA recipients in this manner.

Therefore, I will pray that they can be allowed to stay in this country, allowed to seek citizenship or permanent legal resident status and be allowed to continue to contribute to the country where they came of age.


Immigration reform … anyone?

President Biden’s decision to repeal a Trump administration policy designed to curb immigration into the country in the midst of a pandemic is being met with opposition from both sides of the great divide.

Title 42 aims to block immigrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. while a pandemic is raging. Biden decided to yank it, but he is getting pounded for it. I believe he acted prematurely.

The point of this particular post, though, is how the overarching need for immigration reform is being trampled by issues of the moment.

There needs to be comprehensive, thorough and complete reform of our immigration system. George W. Bush sought it during his two terms as president, as did Barack Obama during his two terms. Donald Trump? He didn’t go there.

Joe Biden has talked openly about reforming the system, making it easier for immigrants to seek asylum if they are looking for refuge from oppression. Now he has muddied it all up by repealing Title 42, a policy pushed onto the books when the pandemic began sickening and killing human beings all around the world.

The so-called Dreamers need protection from deportation. These are immigrants brought here illegally as children by their parents. They have grown up, come of age in this country — the only country they have known! Many of them face deportation because our immigration policy simply doesn’t allow for humanity in treating these individuals as U.S. residents.

The Trump administration also mucked things up by separating children from their parents at the border in yet another inhumane demonstration. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials got pilloried for their handling of the separation matter, drawing criticism from those seeking to dismantle ICE. That’s a bad call. ICE needs to be mended, not ended.

Immigration reform, sadly, is one of those issues being buried by the headlines of the moment, namely the Ukraine War and the critical shortage of baby formula.

We live in a nation founded by immigrants. It long has functioned under an immigrant-friendly policy. We need a return to the philosophy our founders used to create this great nation.


War eclipses everything

War has this way of overshadowing all other concerns that should be at or near the top of our minds. Here in Texas, one of them involves undocumented immigrants and whether the state should allow them to attend public colleges and universities.

Gov. Greg Abbott has this thing against people who are illegally, even when they come here as children — perhaps even as infants or toddlers. They know no other country than the United States of America.

Abbott wants to ban undocumented students from our public colleges, despite a federal law that requires states to provide the education for all residents. He is right, though, to suggest that the federal government should do more to help the states. That’s a fair request.

However, he need not demonstrate some sort of false machismo by declaring Texas’s public university and college systems should be closed to those students who came here only because their parents wanted to create a safe environment for their children.

That, I dare say, is inhumane.

It’s an issue that deserves our attention, except that we are so terribly worried and appalled at the inhumanity being brought to Ukrainians at the hands of the Russian invaders. Hey, I’m concerned about them, too!

I just want us to turn our attention — perhaps if only for a brief time — to the many other important issues that need repair.


Anti-immigrant rhetoric has been around

For as long as I can recall, the talk we hear about closing our borders to immigrants has been an ongoing topic of discussion, debate and demagoguery.

I can recall writing a column for the Beaumont Enterprise in the 1980s about those who wanted to slam the door shut on immigration. Hey, they got in, or their ancestors got into the country. Now that they were citizens of the world’s greatest nation, let’s just slam the door shut. Toss the key. Build a moat; fill it with filthy water and gators.

The anti-immigrant rhetoric isn’t uniquely American, either. Europeans from east to west, north to south have been yammering for decades about the unwashed masses pouring into their countries from, say, the Middle East. Political parties in Europe have emerged to challenge the status quo.

Let us not forget, too, that Europe gave the world the National Socialist Party — aka the Nazis. Their aim was to promote the “master race” and rid the world of people who worshiped the Jewish faith.

Today, though, the anti-immigrants have many more media weapons at their disposal to spew their rubbish. They contend that non-native-born Americans are “invading” the country, that they are going to push us native-born Americans out of the way. What nonsense. There cannot possibly be a more un-American policy than that. The government we honor today was created by individuals are the direct descendants of those who “invaded” the country in the 17th century. We are a nation built by immigrants. Thus, for our founders’ descendants to seek to ban more immigrants borders on treason … in my humble view.

Perhaps in a perverse and perverted way, that the anti-immigrant rhetoric would be gathering steam these days is merely a continuation of a scourge with which our nation has been dealing all along.


Hands off of DACA

If I could rule the world for just a little bit of time, I would declare that an executive order issued by a former president of the United States should be left on the books … never to be trifled with ever again.

I refer to President Obama’s order creating the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program. DACA was set up to shield undocumented immigrants from being deported if they were brought here as children by their parents.

President Obama fought to keep DACA in force. He left office in January 2017. His successor, Donald J. Trump, removed the DACA order. Trump then left office in January of this year and his successor, President Biden, restored the DACA order.

So there you have it. It is there, then it’s not, now it’s back again.

I want the order to remain. Why? Because these recipients of DACA privilege know no other nation than the one where they live today. That is the U.S. of A. They are de facto Americans. They are U.S. residents. Many of them have achieved great academic and professional success.

DACA is a humane policy that seeks to give these individuals an avenue to achieve citizenship or permanent resident status.

As Democrats and Republicans battle over immigration, they simply need to remove DACA from the table. These individuals have done nothing illegal other than accompany their parents into this nation.


Protect DACA recipients

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The young men and women who reside in the United States need not be kicked around in a political skirmish that involves a decision made by their elders.

I refer to those who live here under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals provision that was enacted through executive order by President Obama, but has been ruled unlawful by a federal judge in Texas.

DACA recipients comprise several hundred thousand U.S. residents who were brought here illegally by their parents. They grew up as Americans; they came of age as Americans; the U.S. is the only country they know; many of them have flourished.

President Obama sought to give them some sanctuary from deportation by enacting the DACA program. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen — nominated for the federal bench by President George W. Bush — declared the DACA program to be illegal.

President Biden vows to appeal the ruling. I will take the president at his word. He should appeal it.

DACA is a humane and effective policy that should be codified  under law. Congress has the power to do that. My hope would be that enough fair-minded Republicans could join their Democratic colleagues in ensuring that these men and women — who came here as children and who have grown into responsible U.S. residents — can receive a clearer path to citizenship or permanent residency status.

Oh, but wait! That might require comprehensive immigration reform, which Republicans in Congress are unable or unwilling to enact. Why? Well, beats the hell out of me!

DACA recipients have been kicked around for too long already. Two former Texas governors — George W. Bush and Rick Perry, both Republicans — have spoken in favor of allowing so-called “Dreamers” to attend Texas colleges and universities; moreover, they have supported allowing them to attend under in-state tuition rules, given that they have been Texas residents of long standing. I consider that to be a fair and decent public policy.

The federal judiciary has intervened, though, in the effort to help these folks assimilate more completely into the society they adopted as their own when they came of age.

For the life of me I cannot understand why some politicians prefer to punish these individuals because of something their parents did when they were too young to fend for themselves.

‘W’ weighs in on immigration

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

George W. Bush has come alive, urging Congress to enact a policy he sought during his two terms as president of the United States.

The 43rd president wants a comprehensive immigration reform policy to be placed on the books.

I happen to be wholly in favor of the strategy that President Bush is seeking to enact.

Bush wrote an op-ed essay that the Washington Post published on Friday. According to Politico.com: “Over the years, our instincts have always tended toward fairness and generosity. The reward has been generations of grateful, hard-working, self-reliant, patriotic Americans who came here by choice,” Bush wrote. “If we trust those instincts in the current debate, then bipartisan reform is possible. And we will again see immigration for what it is: not a problem and source of discord, but a great and defining asset of the United States.”

... In his piece, Bush called for a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” increased border security, working with other countries to stem the root causes of migration as well a “modernized” asylum system and higher levels of legal immigration, “focused on employment and skills.”

Bush pushes immigration reform as GOP sidesteps a deal on it – POLITICO

To be sure, President Bush is getting resistance from fellow Republicans, particularly those who might seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. They adhere to the Donald Trump doctrine of “round ’em up deport all” of those who are here illegally. That includes the “Dreamers,” who were brought here as children when their parents sneaked into the country without proper immigration documents.

Bush has kept a low profile since leaving office in 2009. He told CBS News over the weekend that he doesn’t expect his public call for immigration reform to change many minds. He said he’s fine with that. However, the former president does lend an important voice to a critical issue.

As for Congress’s paralysis on immigration reform, Bush notes that Barack Obama and Donald Trump relied on executive action to seek movement on immigration. CBS’s Norah O’Donnell asked him what that means, to which President Bush responded: “All that means is that Congress isn’t doing its job,”

What constitutes immigration reform?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Some of you, like me who are interested in these things, might be inclined to wonder: What does comprehensive immigration reform look like?

I pose the question in the wake of that visit to the Texas border with Mexico from Republican members of Congress who have decided that the crisis on the border is all President Biden’s fault. They have sniped and snorted over the influx of immigrants fleeing oppression, crime, heartache in Latin America. They are searching for happiness and a new life in the Land of Opportunity and Freedom.

A letter writer to the Dallas Morning News asked of Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, two of the border visitors, whether they were going to stop yapping about Biden’s policies and start offering some comprehensive immigration reform ideas of their own.

What constitutes such reform?

I’ll take a brief stab at it.

  • We ought to establish policies that give a “pathway to citizenship” for those undocumented immigrants who are here already and who have been exposed as front-line workers to the COVID virus. U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif. — the son of immigrants — estimates there are about 5 million out of 11 million undocumented immigrants who fit that description. That’s one idea.
  • Another would be to make the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals a law. Codified it and allow DACA recipients to avoid deportation if they seek citizenship or legal resident status. These individuals were brought here as children — some of them as infants — by their parents who sneaked into the country illegally. Many of the DACA recipients have pursued fruitful careers as U.S. residents. They have excelled academically. They have paid their taxes. They have worked hard. They have raised families of their own.
  • Still another notion would be to reform the Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy of separating children from their parents, which was a hallmark of the Donald Trump administration. I don’t want to see ICE dismantled. It can perform a valuable service in protecting this country. There is plenty of opportunity to make it a more humanely operated agency.
  • And yes, we need to beef up border security.  We don’t need to erect walls along our border. It is too costly and its effectiveness is questionable. This nation has plenty of technological know-how to find and identify those who cross our border in the dead of night. We already are returning many undocumented immigrants already. I have no problem with that policy.

I know this doesn’t cover the whole gambit of immigration reform. I just want to see our elected representatives start dealing forthrightly with some solutions rather than tossing blame at an administration that has made a more “humane” immigration policy its benchmark.