DACA deserves support, but not illegals

Andrew S. Hanen of the Federal District Court in Houston has ruled that a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented young adults from deportation and allowed them to legally work in the United States, is not legal.

I disagree with the judge. 

The judge maintained that President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by executive action in 2012.

Again, I disagree with the judge.

This issue will be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will have the final say on  the law.

Here’s why I support DACA, which may surprise the Leftists who think I hate immigrants.

First, I love immigrants. The legal ones. They bring energy, a hunger for success, and a love of this country absent in many nativists.

I don’t hate the illegal ones, but I don’t accept illegal behavior.

I’be been writing about immigration for two decades and when approaching illegals, many of whom talk as if they are entitled to live here, I ask three questions:

1- Did you know you were breaking U.S. law?

2- Did you know there would be consequences if you were caught?

3- Did you come here voluntarily?

The answer to (1) is certainly. That’s why they sneaked in, or overstayed their visas.

(2) Yes, they knew there would be consequences. That’s why they “live in the shadows.”

But voluntarily, (3)? The DACA-protected juveniles, called Dreamers for their pursuit of the American Dream, were brought here by their parents. So that answer, really, is no, they did not come here voluntarily, they were dragged here by parents or other relatives.

One foundation of our legal system is guilt is affixed to the perpetrator. It is not inherited. So the parents who brought them here are guilty, but the children are not.

That’s why they should be permitted to stay, even if parents are deported.

Which is unlikely, generally speaking.

Polling says Americans are of two minds when it comes to illegals.

The vast majority of Americans don’t want the estimated 11 million illegals rounded up and deported. Because Americans are not heartless, and it  would be almost impossible.

At the same time, about the same percentage of Americans do not approve of Sanctuary Cities.

So what we need is a path to legalization. 

In 2013, President Barack Obama proposed this: “We’ve got to lay out a path — a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line, behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally.”

I agree with that except for the offer of citizenship. Barring them from citizenship would be just punishment for them breaking U.S. laws, and would also remove the shibboleth that Democrats want to admit illegals only for their vote.

22 thoughts on “DACA deserves support, but not illegals”

  1. I think DACA is a good and humane program. I also believe that, like most policies, it should be passed by Congress rather than decreed by presidents. In our system, Congress is supposed to make the rules and presidents carry out those rules.

    Separation of power is among the defining features of our government. It’s purpose is to protect our liberty by diffusing powrr. There has been a trend among presidents to govern with “a pen and a phone” rather than through the tedious process of working through Congress. DACA, though I believe it to be good policy, should be enacted by Congress.

      1. Well said Andrew and Stu. As you know, I’ve been on this bandwagon for years now. Congress has abdicated their responsibility when it comes to immigration. They haven’t meaningfully addressed the issue for 4 decades. They are a weak, spineless organization capable of only criticism and doing nothing for the American people.

  2. A very good column here, that being not unusual. However, I’d very slightly differ with the closing opinion. I don’t believe that the shibboleth would necessarily be attributed to the Democrat voter but am very strongly of the opinion that it is an infected wound triggered by LBJ, and exacerbated over the years by the likes of Joe Biden, Mrs. Clinton, Pelosi and Schummer. It’s not the Democrat voters, it’s their leaders. I believe that we can all get along with the right crew.

  3. If I am not mistaken, the USA is one of only two countries that makes citizens of children born to non-citizens. That is why pregnant illegals cross into the USA to that their child born here would automatically be a citizen. It is a terrible law and should be changed. BTW, I am a child of legal immigrants, and my son is married to a legal immigrant. I love immigrants — legal immigrants.

      1. You are absolutely correct. I saw the list and was astonished that not one European nation recognizes birthright citizenship.

  4. What this country needs is comprehensive immigration reform. As the libertarian Cato Institute has pointed out “Trying the legal immigration system as an alternative to immigrating illegally is like playing Powerball as an alternative to saving for retirement.” They persuasively argue, for the vast majority of those who want to come to this country, there is no line to even stand in. As they say, “From the average would‐​be immigrant’s perspective, America’s doors are legally shut… when legal immigration is hopeless, illegal immigration should surprise no one.” [For those anti-vaxxers out there–you are being legally replaced!–immigrants must provide proof that they have received 13 vaccines against 16 different diseases, including COVID-19; also, no one who has used marijuana, even if legal]. As far as UN-recognized refugees, we take in 0.1% legally. Also, the “United States has no immigrant visa processing consulates in nearly 70 countries… ” so would-be immigrants from those countries must first obtain travel authorization to another country to even apply.

    The other side of the story is that we have a labor shortage in this country. It is notable that during the 2007-2008 crash, we had a net out-flow of illegal immigrants, because no jobs! Of course there have long been laws on the books (“e-verify” etc) making it illegal to hire immigrants, but no real enforcement–else Trump, or his companies, would have been in jail/fined for that long before he ran for president. If all we want to do is reduce illegal immigration, a good place to start would be to crack down on America’s farmers, because about 50% of farm laborers in this country are illegal migrants. Sure, food prices would skyrocket, and crops might rot in the fields, but it would be more effective at reducing illegal immigration than a wall. [This was the basis for Romney’s 2008 much ridiculed, but soundly factually-based notion that by cracking down on employers and denying illegals jobs, people would “self-deport”–they certainly do, but at what cost? Why not just hope for another crash/recession? In 2012, Trump called the plan “maniacal.” https://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Donald-Trump-Ronald-Kessler/2012/11/26/id/465363/%5D

    To shamelessly steal from Stu, “Tom’s immigration reform” would put legal immigration quotas in the hands of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Up the numbers during labor shortages, and tamp them down when unemployment creeps up. Right now we’ve a got a sign up saying “America is Hiring!’ while simultaneously trying to choke off the supply of applicants. When we put up that sign, we should ease legal immigration restrictions. When only gangsters were selling alcohol, people bought from them. No amount of enforcement made people stop drinking. As long as the jobs are there, and there is no real legal alternative to filling them, we will have illegal immigration however harshly we try to enforce the laws against it.

    If we provide a real legal alternative for these people, history shows that they will “wait in line.” I think that includes both DACA and, as a Stu says, a path to legal residency in this country who are working and paying taxes.

    On thing the Cato Institute suggests is re-instituting the guest worker (bracero program). As they point out:
    “The bracero guest worker expansion resulted in a massive decline in illegal immigration. When Congress allowed the program to sunset in 1965, illegal immigration returned for four decades of large‐​scale uninterrupted crossings. At the time, Border Patrol agents fiercely opposed the elimination of the bracero program, correctly predicting that it would result in more illegal immigration than the agency could realistically expect to control.” https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/legal-immigration-will-resolve-americas-real-border-problems#solution-3-expand-guest-worker-programs-in-central-america

    Final note: I’m not a libertarian (though I have sympathies for some of their positions), but I’d like to again point out that one can’t get the whole picture if you don’t read sources you disagree with. We’d be contemptuous of a judge who read only one side’s brief before rendering a decision. In our democracy, the voters are the judges.

    1. My only comment is the USA accepts more legal immigrants than any other country on earth. So to claim it is hard to get in is misleading. 157 MILLION would like to come here, per Gallup. We clearly can’t take them all at once.

      1. True in absolute numbers, but on a per capita basis, not so much. As Cato points out:

        “Although the United States has accepted the most immigrants in absolute terms compared with other individual countries, fewer immigrants reside in the United States as a share of its population than in 55 other countries (or territories with independent immigration policies). The United States ranks in the bottom third among wealthy countries for the foreign‐​born share of its population.”

        If you count illegals, we have 14.8%–without we have 11.7%. The 14.8% total is behind Australia, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Belgium, Norway, Estonia and many other smaller countries. Canada is the average at 21.4%, more than half again as much as the US total. Looking at just the legal foreign born, we are also behind Spain, the Netherlands and France. Using the total number is comparing apples to oranges.

        1. Your original post said getting here (paraphrasing) was almost impossible. The numbers show that is not true. As for the percentage game, there are more non natives in NYC, about 36%, than at any time since the turn of the 20th Century. Other big cities also have big numbers.

          1. How many of those are legal? According to Cato, about a third of all non-natives are illegal. Their point, which makes sense to me, is that more people would go the legal route, if one was available. That doesn’t mean open borders. My point is that if we match immigration policy to economic demand, it means we can get the immigration we need (with better selectivity) and reduce illegals on two fronts: (a) increasing the incentive to wait in line and (b) taking away the incentive to come here for jobs eliminated by the matched legal immigration policy. In that case, we CAN use vigorous enforcement against employers, who are the real force driving the presence of illegals.

          2. Forgive me if I answered already. It’s hard to track. There are 157 million who would come here if allowed, per Gallup. That creates a wait of several years, depending on what country you are coming from. So many decide not to wait, and show up.

    1. Well, the paper has 442 footnotes, with many links for those who care to follow. A bit better sourced than your average Op-Ed. The place is a “think tank” and issues research papers. Just about everything they say has a back-up reference. Here’s a sampling of the stuff they looked at, which includes official stats, others’ research and some documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests.

      “International Migrant Stock 2019,” Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, August 2019; World Population Prospects 2019: Highlights (New York: Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, 2019);

      Annual reports of Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2001 from 2001 to 2019. Freedom of Information Act request COW2020000194, “Count of Form I-140 National Interest Waivers,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2020.

      Yearbook of Immigration Statistics 2018, Office of Immigration Statistics (Washington: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, November 13, 2019).

      Ian K. Kullgren, “Does the U.S. Admit More Legal Immigrants than the Rest of the World Combined?,” PolitiFact, May 24, 2013.

      David J. Bier, “The United States Does Not Permit More Immigration than the Rest of the World Combined,” Cato at Liberty (blog), Cato Institute, July 13, 2022.

      David J. Bier, “US Foreign‐​Born Share Ranks Low & Is Falling among Wealthy Countries,” Cato at Liberty (blog), Cato Institute, July 27, 2022.

      Ira J. Kurzban, Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, 17th ed. (Washington: American Immigration Council, 2020).

      “Warning for Immigrants about Medical and Legalized Marijuana,” Immigrant Legal Resource Center, May 21, 2021.

      “Recommendations on the Reform of the Special Immigrant Visa Program for U.S. Wartime Partners,” International Refugee Assistance Project, June 2020.

      “Figures at a Glance,” UNHCR. Data for figures come from Global Trends (Copenhagen, Denmark: UNHCR, 2021).

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