Tag Archives: immigration reform

Trial starts … and then ends

It looks as though Alejandro Mayorkas is going to keep his job as homeland security secretary after all.

You see, the U.S. House impeached Mayorkas because Republicans didn’t like the way he is running his department’s immigration policy. So … lacking a “high crime and misdemeanor,” they impeached him anyway.

The case went to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

The Senate then managed, by a narrow partisan vote, to dismiss the impeachment charges against the DHS boss.

I’m an admitted partisan on this issue. Mayorkas didn’t deserve to be impeached simply because he has done a lousy job of controlling our southern border. To the Senate Democrats’ credit, they managed to hold together to fend off this scam trial.

My hope is that Mayorkas has been issued a wake-up call and tends to the need to protect our southern border against those seeking illegal entry into the United States.

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?


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.


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.


‘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.

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.

Wish list for next POTUS

I want the next president of the United States to undo the damage done by Donald J. Trump. My to-do wish list is a lengthy one.

And by the way, I hope the next president is Joseph R. Biden Jr.

So, for the record and in no particular order of importance, I want the next president to:

  • Reinstate our participation in key international agreements, such as the Iran nuclear arms deal; the Paris Climate Accords; remaining a part of the World Health Organization.
  • Issue a new executive order reviving the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals for those undocumented immigrants who were brought here illegally as children by their parents.
  • Look Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the eye and tell him he faces severe economic and diplomatic sanctions if he continues to interfere in our electoral process.
  • Restore environmental protections seeking cleaner air and water.
  • Revive our alliances within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • Start working immediately on comprehensive immigration reform. Accordingly, I also want the next president to strengthen border security without erecting a wall along our southern border.
  • Restore policies that welcome gay men and women who want to serve in our nation’s armed forces.
  • Stop the effort to kill the Affordable Care Act and instead work immediately to improve it and make it truly more “affordable” for millions of Americans.
  • Develop a sensible and comprehensive national strategy to fight the pandemic that continues to kill and sicken too many Americans every day.
  • Redeploy resources to developing clean energy.

I am sure there are other initiatives worth pursuing once we get a new president.

My hope remains that the day will arrive next Jan. 20 and not four years after that date.