Tag Archives: immigration reform

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.

Fix the DACA mess; restore humaneness to our immigration policy

 ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A Facebook friend, a man I actually know and respect, brought up a point on an earlier blog post that I want to acknowledge here.

He agrees with my belief that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency needs to be repaired, not eliminated, but he cautions about the need to deal with the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals matter as well.

He is correct.

DACA recipients are being punished unjustly only because they were children when their parents sneaked them into the country illegally. The Donald Trump administration wants them deported. The president rescinded an executive order that President Obama signed that gave DACA residents a form of temporary amnesty from deportation.

ICE is under orders to find these folks and detain them.

This isn’t right. It’s cruel and it is inhumane to deport DACA recipients, many of whom have excelled scholastically in the only country they’ve ever known.

I should point out as well two previous Texas governors — George W. Bush and Rick Perry, both Republicans — have all but embraced the idea contained in the DACA executive order that Obama signed. They have supported initiatives, for instances, to grant DACA students in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in Texas. Why? Because they recognize the contributions these young students can make if they are allowed to succeed while continuing to reside in Texas.

ICE can do much good for the country as we seek to reform our immigration policy. I also agree with former Vice President Joe Biden, who’s campaigning for president, that the best way to ensure a thorough and lasting repair of ICE is to change presidents. Donald Trump won’t do it.

Indeed, DACA reform must be part of any effort to re-humanize our nation’s immigration policy.

ICE can be mended

Joe Biden is having trouble finding his footing lately as he campaigns for president, but I want to fully endorse an idea he has put forth about the nation’s immigration enforcement policy.

The former vice president says it is wrong to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. It can be repaired. Indeed, the best remedy, according to Biden, is to elect a new president in 2020.

I have been troubled, along with progressives, by the ham-handed approach ICE has used to detain immigrants who have entered the United States illegally. However, the principle behind ICE’s formation remains sound. Yes, we need better enforcement along our borders — both north and south, I hasten to add — as well as along our expansive Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts. ICE’s mission is to enact enforcement policies that seek to stem illegal immigration into the country.

ICE critics have taken the argument against the agency’s policy too far, though, by calling for its abolition.

Democratic presidential candidates, such as Elizabeth Warren, say the human rights abuses are a direct result of ICE policy. She’s only half-right. The direct responsibility for that policy flows from the White House, where Donald Trump is currently residing.

I agree with Joe Biden: The best cure for what ails ICE is to replace the president with someone with a semblance of empathy and compassion for those who are seeking to enter this country while fleeing oppression and crime in other nations.

There is no compelling need to abolish ICE. The agency simply needs to be repaired. Let’s start with removing the guy at the top of the chain of command.

What about those DACA recipients?

You remember the folks who were granted resident status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, correct?

Yep, those are the DACA movement folks who have been swallowed up by the political debate over whether they should be deported to countries they’ve never known.

As the country writhes in pain over the latest spasm of gun violence, much of it aimed at Latin Americans who have come to this country, I want to revisit briefly an issue that seems to have been shoved under the bed.

Donald Trump rescinded Barack Obama’s executive order granting DACA status to those who came here as children when their children entered the country illegally. DACA recipients were deemed to be criminals, even though many of them came here as small children.

Many of them have come of age as de facto Americans. They have performed well in school. They have earned academic honors. They have succeeded in business. They have reared their own families.

Oh, but they are “illegal residents” of the only country they have known. Their country of origin is a foreign place. They have no ties to them.

I want the Democratic Party presidential candidates to speak more clearly about how we can settle this DACA matter. My own preference is for them to pledge to restore the DACA standing given them by President Obama. Allow them to work toward citizenship or permanent resident status. Do not deport them, sending them to countries for which they have no connection.

Yes, we need to discuss the shootings. We need to search for ways to end this violence. We need to stem the hate speech that prompted someone to murder those victims in El Paso.

We also need to find a solution to the DACA matter that lingers. Kicking them out of the country is no answer.

Why punish DACA recipients for their parents’ ‘sins’?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is in the news again. Indeed, it never seems to go away largely because some in Congress want to eliminate an executive order that President Obama signed in 2012.

For the life of my I keep asking: Why must we punish law-abiding U.S. residents for something their parents did when their children were too young to resist?

Obama signed the DACA order to protect those who came here as children when their parents entered the United States illegally. Many of those DACA recipients came here as infants or toddlers. Mom and Dad entered the United States in search of a better life. They just didn’t get into the country legally. They snuck in under the proverbial radar.

Over the years, many of those children grew into responsible adults in the only country they knew as young adults and older. They were educated in our schools, they attended college, they graduated with honors. They went to work. They have paid their taxes. They have lived as de facto U.S. citizens, except that they’re here illegally.

Barack Obama intended to protect them from immediate deportation, enabling them a path toward obtaining citizenship or at minimum permanent resident status.

Then Obama left office. In comes Donald Trump, vowing to eliminate the DACA order. He did so. He ordered the immediate deportation of these individuals. Why? Because in the strictest definition of the word, they are “lawbreakers.”

I admit — albeit grudgingly — that Trump is right. Technically, that is. The more humane approach would be to extend DACA benefits for those who came only because of something their parents did.

A federal court panel has just ruled that Trump’s order rescinding the DACA order was “arbitrary and capricious.” The president is sure to fight it.

I just am baffled that the administration continues to insist on punishing U.S. residents only because they happened to be born to individuals who sought to skirt U.S. immigration law in search of a better life for their families.

I’ll divulge a little secret about Donald Trump’s Cabinet. It happens to include a gentleman — Energy Secretary (and former Texas Gov.) Rick Perry — who once touted the notion of allowing DACA recipients to pay in-state college tuition prices, the same as any resident of Texas. So, you see, Trump hasn’t surrounded himself totally with heartless ideologues.

If only he would listen to others in his administration who share Rick Perry’s view that DACA does more good than harm for the United States of America.

Immigrants are a ‘blessing and a strength’

George W. Bush hasn’t lost his voice in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

The former president of the United States spoke today at an event at his presidential library and museum in Dallas about the value that immigrants bring to American life and the texture they add to our diverse American culture.

The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been a good bit less welcoming in his rhetoric about illegal and even legal immigrants. He wants to raise the bar to establish a form of merit-based immigration and, of course, has implied that the majority of illegal immigrants are pouring into the country to commit all manner of violent crimes.

That’s not how President Bush is wired.

“I hope those responsible in Washington can dial down the rhetoric, put politics aside and modernize our immigration laws soon,” the former president said in Dallas.

He speaks as someone with experience governing a border state, which he did from 1995 to 2000 in Texas. President Bush understands the value that immigrants bring to the United States and has sought since his time as Texas governor to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

If only the current White House resident would listen.

Immigration reform? Remember that matter?

The nation is getting all tangled up in this discussion over whether to build Trump’s Wall along our southern border.

Democrats and a growing number of Republicans don’t want it; Donald Trump’s followers — led by the cadre of talk-radio blowhards — are all for it.

What I am not hearing — maybe I’m not paying enough attention — is any serious discussion about how we might actually apply a permanent repair to the problem of illegal immigration.

How about turning our attention to serious immigration reform legislation?

We keep making feeble attempts at it. We get sidetracked and discouraged because too many members of Congress are resisting those calls for reform.

Then we hear about data that tell us that a huge percentage of those who are in the United States illegally are those whose work visas have expired. So, they arrive here legally but become illegal residents because those visas have run out. These one-time legal residence then are called “criminals” and “lawbreakers.” The become fodder for the president and his supporters to erect that wall along our southern border.

Can’t there be a concerted push to hire more administrative personnel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to process these visas or to speed up citizenship requests from those who want to become Americans?

The president did offer a form of compromise during that partial government shutdown by suggesting a three-year reprieve from deportation for so-called Dreamers, those who were brought here as children when their parents sneaked in illegally. That’s a start. However, Donald Trump connected that idea with more money to build his wall, which made it a non-starter for those who oppose The Trump Wall.

So now the president has declared a “national emergency.” There is no such thing on our border with Mexico. The only “emergency,” it seems to me, rests with the interminable delays that occur when foreign-born residents’ work visas run out or when they seek citizenship to the Land of Opportunity.

How about getting busy applying a permanent repair to the problem?

It ain’t the ‘Democrat Party,’ young man

I now want to pick a few nits with one of the right-wing wackos who works for Donald John Trump.

Stephen Miller, a senior policy guru for the president, says the administration will do “whatever is necessary” to build a wall along our southern border.

Oh, but then he relies on that goofy perversion of the identity of the opposing political party.

“The Democrat Party has a simple choice,” Miller said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “They either can choose to fight for America’s working class or to promote illegal immigration.”

Democrat Party? That’s what he calls the Democratic Party.

Hey, I get that it’s a minor point, but then again it really is more of a major point than the Rs would care to acknowledge. The hard-liners’ insistence on using the perverted ID of the Democratic Party is intended to demonize a great political organization. One does not hear such a thing coming from Democrats who might be inclined to refer to members of the “Republic Party.” That, too, would disparage — if not denigrate — the other great major political organization.

As for Miller’s assertion that Democrats might want to “promote illegal immigration,” that is another branch broken off from the demagogue’s tree. No patriotic American wants to “promote” illegal immigration. We all want border security. Many of us just don’t want to build a wall to seal us off from our neighbors.

Those Republican demagogues, though, are intent on demonizing the opposing party (a) by perverting the party’s name and (b) by suggesting they want to “promote” the commission of crimes.

Get serious, young man.