Tag Archives: Dreamers

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 They want it rescinded.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.


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.


Reform immigration policy!

Sakshi Mohta’s story saddens me terribly, as it speaks to a fundamental flaw in our nation’s inability to help people like her assimilate more completely into the country where she came of age.

Mohta dreams of becoming a physician. Mohta attends the University of Texas-Dallas. The student wrote an essay for the Dallas Morning News that laments being “aged out” of the nation’s immigration system, putting her in position to face possible deportation.

Yes, she entered this country legally as an 8-year-old when her parents moved here.

The nation’s immigration system is broken. It needs repair. It needs to be made more efficient and it needs to enable immigrants such as Mohta to be able to achieve either permanent resident status or enables them to fast-track their way to U.S. citizenship.

I came to America legally. Our broken immigration system is sending me away (dallasnews.com)

Her essay began with these words: Most people my age look forward to their 21st birthday — a night of celebrating your long-awaited adulthood with friends. But in February, I approached that milestone with a sense of dread. My birthday marked the day I “aged out” of my immigration status. Overnight, I went from being the legal dependent of my parents to a deportation risk. A snag in immigration policy landed me here. That snag is a serious one, impacting 200,000 other “documented Dreamers” like me. Congress can fix this problem. For the benefit of America, it should.

Ah, yes. Sakshi Mohta is a Dreamer, one of those U.S. residents who are caught in a system that doesn’t know what to do with them once they reach a certain age.

Mohta wants the system reformed. So do I. So do many other Americans who want our nation to continue to serve as a beacon to those who come here in search of greater opportunity.

Mohta has at least one important friend in the Senate. Mohta wrote: Texas Sen. John Cornyn gave his verbal commitment to support policy change, but words are not enough. We need action.

By all means, we most certainly do need the people in power to lend credence to their words of support.


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.

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 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.

Yes, on DACA order

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Biden has made clear his intention to walk directly into the Oval Office when he takes office and get right to work.

Biden’s transition team has announced the president-elect’s intention to sign several executive orders on Day One. One of them speaks directly to an issue that interests me greatly: restoration of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals order that Donald Trump revoked not long after he took office.

Former President Obama issued the DACA order initially, intending to shield from deportation those U.S. residents who had been brought here illegally by their parents; most of those DACA recipients have lived in this country since they were babies, infants, toddlers. They know no other country than the United States of America.

Obama sought to give them a fast track to seeking permanent legal resident status or citizenship. Trump wasn’t having any of it. He revoked his predecessor’s executive order. Now Trump’s immediate successor wants to restore the DACA program.

Good for you, Mr. President-elect!

I haven’t yet come to grips with precisely why Trump targeted DACA recipients in that manner. I wonder if he did it because he truly believed that they were lawbreakers as young children/toddlers because they came here illegally under the care of their parents. Or did he do it just to wipe away a vestige of President Obama’s time in office, which seems to have rankled Trump to no end.

I’m going to go with the latter rationale.

Indeed, many DACA recipients have carved out productive lives as U.S. residents. Many of them have achieved academic excellence and success in their chosen profession. They pay their taxes and they have become de facto citizens simply by virtue of their ability to live by the rules of the land to where they were brought.

DACA recipients don’t deserve a free ride. Nor do they deserve permanent amnesty. They should be allowed to seek legal resident status without fear of imminent deportation to the land of their birth, but a land with which they have zero familiarity.

That, I trust, is President-elect Biden’s goal by restoring DACA status to hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents.

SCOTUS scores a win for DACA recipients

It looks for all the world as if the U.S. Supreme Court has been smitten by a case of humanity along with a touch of compassion.

The court issued a ruling, albeit a narrow 5-4 decision, that upholds the Obama administration’s executive order protecting the residency status of hundreds of thousands of folks who came here illegally, many of whom as children brought to the United States by their parents.

President Obama issued the order called Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It protected about 650,000 immigrants from deportation. Donald Trump rescinded that order. The high court, though, today said “not so fast.”

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four progressive justices in siding with DACA recipients, writing the opinion that said Trump’s order lacked sufficient legal foundation.

This a good deal. Many, if not most, DACA recipients have known no other country but the United States. Many of them are unfamiliar with their country of birth. They speak English. They attend school here. They work here. They pay U.S. taxes. They live as de facto Americans. Except that they aren’t citizens.

Donald Trump sought to ship them out, send them back to a country with which they have no understanding or familiarity. Politico reports: Roberts, who has emerged in recent years as a semi-regular swing justice on the court, wrote the majority opinion concluding that the decision to phase-out the program was unlawful because it did not consider all the options to rein in the program and failed to account for the interests of those who relied on it.

So the fight continues. It appears that the Trump administration will be unable to craft a new order in time for the November election.

My hope is that if Trump loses the election that the new president, Joe Biden, will scrap the effort to eliminate the DACA program and allow these once-young immigrants to continue to pursue their dream of living in the land of opportunity … provided, of course, that they seek to legalize their standing as U.S. residents.