Tag Archives: DACA

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.

DACA may be victim of surge

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This surge of underage migrants coming across our southern border might produce a casualty that many of us don’t want to see occur.

That casualty well could be a push toward comprehensive immigration reform.

Republicans are suing President Biden over what they contend is a failed immigration policy. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Biden team to do more to prevent this surge in undocumented, unaccompanied children coming into Texas. Everyone is focused on the crisis of the moment.

My fear is that the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals — aka DACA — is going to get caught up in the sausage grinder of recrimination. DACA is an act restored by President Biden that allows those who were brought here illegally as children by their parents to remain as U.S. residents. Biden wants to give them a faster track toward legal residency or citizenship.

DACA is part of a comprehensive immigration reform effort that was thought essential by President Bush, a Republican and by President Obama, a Democrat. Donald Trump wasn’t interested in reforming the immigration protocol, other than to deport all illegal immigrants immediately back to their country of origin.

That included DACA recipients, who were here because their parents brought them here when they were youngsters. They grew up in the United States, they have paid their taxes, many of them have excelled academically, professionally and have raised their families here.

DACA might be on the bubble as the nation struggles with this surge and as President Biden tries to find firm footing on which to move the administration forward.

I don’t want to see DACA disappear again.

DACA gets new life

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden got right to work today.

He pulled out his pen and began signing executive orders that sought to reverse some of the policies enacted by his predecessor. So it begins.

I want to talk briefly about one of the issues that Biden deems critical to the nation: immigration.

He has breathed new life into the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program nixed by the 45th president. The axing of DACA didn’t quite take hold, as the courts have intervened to keep it alive, albeit on life support. President Biden signed it back into the real world today while sitting in the Oval Office.

DACA, of course, is the program initiated by President Obama that granted a form of temporary amnesty to those U.S. residents who came to this country illegally as children. Their parents brought them here to seek a better life; they did break the law by sneaking into the country illegally, but the children who came with them didn’t deserve to be deported because of something their parents did.

Obama sought to grant them a reprieve from deportation. His successor nixed that notion. Now comes President Biden to revive DACA once again. Moreover, he is planning to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform package that seeks to fast-track citizenship applications for millions of immigrants who want to become U.S. citizens.

We are a nation of immigrants, for criminy sakes! Our founders all came here from across The Pond. The rest is history. We have welcomed immigrants through the many decades since. Then came a president who immediately characterized those seeking to come here from Latin America as “murderers, rapists and drug dealers.”

Do I want to enforce immigration laws? Of course I do! Those who sneak into this country to do harm should be arrested, prosecuted and kicked out. However, those who come here because they happen to be children of those who came here illegally deserve some compassion and understanding.

The U.S. of A. is the only nation they know. DACA seeks to give them a chance to seek permanent legal resident status or citizenship.

President Biden seeks to give them that chance.

DACA recipients get a boost from judge

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)exe

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents have gotten a welcome boost from a federal judge who has informed the Homeland Security department to start accepting applications to become involved in a program established during the Obama administration.

These residents are those who came here illegally as children, brought to the United States by their parents. They’re called “Dreamers,” and the Obama administration shielded them from deportation through the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals act. President Obama established DACA by executive order; Donald Trump rescinded that order, seeking to end the DACA initiative.

Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis’ ruling restores DACA for those Dreamers, giving them a chance to seek citizenship or legal resident status.

Indeed, as I’ve noted already on this blog, DACA recipients need some compassion from the U.S. government. Many of them came here as children, some as toddlers or infants. They know no other country than the United States. They have no connection to their country of birth. The Trump administration sought to round them up and send them packing to their birth country, which to my way of thinking is absolutely cruel in the extreme.

President-elect Biden is vowing immigration reform legislation in his first 100 days in office. It must include a permanent restoration of DACA for those who are willing to do what they must to become citizens or legal residents.

They have been given another reprieve from a federal judge to start that process once again.

As CNN.com reported: “Immigrant youth have resisted this cruel administration’s continuous attacks, and once more we have won,” said Johana Larios. “Now, first-time applicants like me will be able to have access to the DACA program and current recipients will be able to breathe a little easier as DACA is restored to its original form. I am now able to look forward to returning to school, and feel safe that I won’t be separated from my community.”

I am hoping for a return to humane immigration policies.

Immigration reform on tap

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I want to look ahead to the new year, as I cannot wait for this one to disappear in the distance.

President-elect Biden got a question the other night from NBC News anchor Lester Holt: What do you want to accomplish in the first 100 days of your administration?

The new president’s answer? Immigration reform.

Biden said he intends to submit to Congress a detailed immigration reform package that he said must be done soon. It is time, he said, to improve an immigration system that has produced some horrific results, such as the separation of children from their parents when they are caught entering the United States illegally.

The president-elect already has declared his intention on Day One to sign an executive order that rescinds an earlier order that Donald Trump issued regarding the “dreamers” who live in this country. These are the individuals who came here illegally as children when their parents sneaked across the border.

Biden’s order would in effect restore an even earlier executive order that President Obama signed to protect those brought here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA recipients were protected from immediate deportation. Trump wiped that order off the books and then threatened to round up hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients and send them back to their birth country. He didn’t care that DACA recipients have no memory of their country of origin; they have become de facto Americans.

Whatever immigration package the president-elect presents to Congress should contain a fast-track provision for DACA recipients to (a) seek U.S. citizenship or (b) seek some form of legal resident status.

Donald Trump has been listening to dark advice given him by senior (anti-)immigrant adviser Stephen Miller, a young man who appears to have little tolerance for any immigrants of any kind. Being the grandson of immigrants, Miller’s point of view offends me greatly, as does the attitude that Trump adopted during his term in office.

President Bush wanted to reform immigration policy. As did President Obama. The reform effort stalled during the Trump era.

I welcome President Biden’s effort to deliver on his 100-day vow.