A Few Ideas Re DACA Replacement

While mulling over what to write on this week, I kept thinking about last week’s post. So, I decided to follow it up with a few thoughts — not entirely original, of course — on what I’d like to see in the imminent DACA/DREAMer-oriented legislation. Nothing profound, just my two cents.

Knowing that I am rather conservative in my socio-political leanings, you may be surprised at some of what I suggest. A hard-line “justice” position might say to “throw ’em all out!”, no exceptions. But, believe it or not, I do have a heart and am sympathetic to the plight of many DACA beneficiaries. As I said at the end of my last post, any legislation on this needs to somehow balance compassion, wisdom, and justice. I think the “wisdom” component must take into account things like short-term vs. long-term expenses, public sentiment, and other practical concerns.

Unlike House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, I do not believe that all DREAMers are “lovely” or that we “owe a debt to [their] parents for bringing [them] here….” This is just foolishness. On the other hand, I do not believe that those who were brought over illegally as minors are guilty of breaking immigration law. It is their parents who committed the crime. It is sometimes argued that these DREAMers — many/most of whom are in their 20s and 30s, now — are equally guilty for not having turned themselves in to immigration authorities as soon as they became aware of their illegal status or became of age. If they are legally responsible, I think it is for a lesser crime. All else being equal, I can certainly understand such a person wanting to lay low and hope that they are granted amnesty or, at least, legal status.

Nor do I believe that DREAMers are all or equally “ugly” or unwanted. Some are indeed “living the American Dream” as responsible, law-abiding residents, while others are guilty of rape, murder, fraud, larceny, drug-trafficking/dealing, and/or any number of other serious crimes. Many others are struggling somewhere in the middle. In other words, they run the gamut, just like all immigrants, both legal and illegal. So, I don’t think it is fair or just to treat them all the same.

What would I like to see in the new bill? Well, I’d start with what Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said,

“Build the wall, secure that border, internal enforcement, and then eliminate the incentives people have to enter this country illegally.”

I can understand if the matter of The Wall might be delayed to a later date, but it mustn’t be taken totally off the table. I’m still in favor of it and of making Mexico pay for it. (See my “Mr. Peña Nieto, Pay For That Wall!” post from last year.) The hiring of thousands of new border agents and upgrading the E-Verify system for hiring new employees, which Townhall’s Guy Benson pointed out already got the approval of a Democratic Senate, are eminently commonsensical. Other “tough border security measures” should also be discussed.

That last measure mentioned by Biggs needs to be done immediately. Like a virtual wall, a law must be implemented that makes it clear going forward that no more “illegal minors” will be given even deferred status but will be detained and deported. (Kindly and humanely, of course.) Obviously, that should cover unaccompanied children (UACs), which were such a problem 3 or so years ago. Similarly, no more “chain migration” or “anchor baby” benefits to the parents or extended families of such children. Nothing should encourage people to bring/send more minors over the border illegally.

No automatic amnesties or citizenships should be granted. After extensive background checks, the current DACA enrollees should be split into three groups:

1) Those with violent criminal histories.
2) Law-abiding residents who are currently in school or gainfully employed.
3) Everyone in between.

The first group should be immediately deported or imprisoned, as should any other illegal immigrants who are guilty of serious crimes. The second group should be immediately given the option of applying for a green card, which when granted would give them lawful permanent resident status in the United States. There might also be some sort of fees they would have to pay (via payment plan) to compensate for any minor violations while an adult and/or to partially offset certain benefits they have enjoyed at taxpayer expense. After a minimum 5(?) years in good standing with a green card, they can apply for naturalized citizenship like anyone else (i.e., with no “special” consideration, either good or bad). Or, maybe citizenship shouldn’t be an option — I haven’t quite decided.

The third group would immediately be put on a sort of probation, taken on a case-by-case basis, with their future status dependent on circumstances and what they do (or not) in the near future. (For example, a teen or 20-something who “needs direction” but hasn’t done anything really bad might be given an option of taking school seriously, getting/maintaining an above-board job, maybe pursuing a degree or joining the military.) Assuming they become responsible, law-abiding residents, they can apply for permanent residence (i.e., green card), but the option for citizenship might be off the table.

In other words, something like the SUCCEED Act, but with more security measures attached. I realize that there would need to be many more details ironed out (e.g., where do you deport someone, when their country of origin cannot be determined?). But, the above seems reasonable to me. As Benson has pointed out, polls indicate:

“Americans overwhelmingly [86%] support an equitable resolution for DREAMers, and by nearly a 40-point margin, they’re willing to couple that legislative goal with ‘more border security.'”

Keep in mind, I am only holding out the possibility of citizenship for those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors and who have subsequently become productive, law-abiding residents. Even so, they would not get it right away, nor would they get any other special treatment. (Except, of course, for not being deported first.) Those who immigrated here illegally as adults are another matter (and possibly the subject of another blogpost in the future).

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