Despite Trumpfoolery, Congress must pass DREAMers Act

It’s been nearly three months since President Donald Trump announced he would repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This action lead to many protests but no progress. Contention is high on both sides of the argument, with each side adopting an us vs. them mentality. The solution is clear: establish DACA as a legal pathway to citizenship. As simple of a solution as it seems, its finality continues to elude us. What is being done about DACA and the DACA recipients here in Portland and the rest of the United States?

We know Portland State is a sanctuary school; citizenship status is protected. However, outside of school, time is running out for DACA recipients. Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden met with DACA recipients on Oct. 6 to discuss the fight for DACA in Congress so far. They said there is a proposal for three new bills, all of which could mean a better situation for DREAMers. The bills are threefold: the Bridge Act extends DACA for three years, the Confidentiality Act protects the privacy of DREAMers, and the DREAM Act grants recipients permanent legal status.

The DREAM Act was originally introduced to the Senate on July 20. The bill is available to view in full on Congress’ website. In short, it allows people to stay in the U.S. if they a) have been in the U.S. for four years prior to its passing; b) arrived in the U.S. as minors; c) are not criminals or terrorists; d) have not persecuted anyone; e) have not committed the “specified federal or state offenses;” f) have fulfilled the specified educational requirements.

The language of the bill leaves room for interpretation, particularly with its use of the word “specified.” Another concern is the fact that the bill was introduced to Congress just a month and a half before Trump announced the repeal of DACA. Trump and his administration have stipulations they want fulfilled before they approve the bill.

Trump makes sure he is seen as a supporter of DACA and DREAMers on his Twitter account, but he also voices stipulations. He clearly expects Congress to adhere to a stringent set of expectations for the new bill; if they don’t, he could exercise his power of veto. On Sept. 14, right after repealing DACA, Trump posted a tweet which said, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!…..”. On Sept. 15, he tweeted, “CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!”

Although it is likely enough members of Congress would vote in favor of the DREAMers Act, the bill would still be dead in the water unless they abide by Trump’s demands. In order to give his presidential approval, Trump is asking for things Republicans and Democrats do not see eye-to-eye on; the inability to agree might stifle the law’s passing. Because of his tweets, Trump can say although he wanted the bill to pass, Congress didn’t do its job. Ultimately, Trump is putting responsibility and blame onto Congress to hide his anti-immigration policies.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Trump stipulated the bill would have to include more money toward immigration enforcement in order to pass, and DACA recipients who become citizens cannot vouch for relatives’ citizenship. These two stipulations are grounds for heated debate and may pose issues for the bill passing. Voting the bill into law could mean choosing the lesser of two evils: while the DREAMers can stay, more undocumented workers who may be relatives of the DREAMers will be systematically hunted down and deported, thanks to more money going into deportation efforts—money that could go into our crumbling infrastructure, massive groups of homeless and destitute individuals, and our declining education system.

This is yet another impossible choice laid before lawmakers, one in which we all lose something in the end. With the evidence provided, it is difficult not to see President Trump’s manipulation of lawmakers and the American people. A solution is staring us in the face, and both Democrats and enough Republicans are willing to enact it, but the president is the problem. He claims to want to help these young people, but he makes the solution impossible to reach.

We don’t need tougher immigration laws; what we need is to practice tolerance and compassion. We need to pass the DREAMers Act without stipulations on immigration policies no one is going to agree on any time soon. Let’s move forward one step at a time, instead of trying to cover the entire distance in one awkward, uncalculated leap.