Monday brought a glimmer of hope to the so-called DREAMers. The Trump administration hinted that, despite the president’s vow to reverse all of his predecessor’s executive orders, the young people who were brought to America as babies and children by their undocumented parents and are now undocumented themselves, are getting a reprieve, for now.
Trump, perhaps listening to reason, seems to have softened his stance on quickly beginning the deportation process for the DREAMers. In 2012, President Obama gave them special immigration dispensation via an executive order. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, allowed the approximately 740,000 young people to come out of the shadows. The move was smart, compassionate and well-timed politically, coming just before the 2012 presidential election. It was also temporary. Still, it let the DREAMers breathe a sigh of relief.
Almost five years later, they are breathing easier again and, it’s to be hoped, not temporarily.
When asked about the possible repeal of DACA on Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer, at his first official press briefing, said that the Trump administration’s deportation focus would fall, rightly, on undocumented criminals, not the DREAMers. Asked a second time, Spicer gave a similar answer. We like that consistency.
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Members of Miami’s congressional delegation, who have stood up for the DREAMers, praised the new stance.
“I am glad the Trump administration is prioritizing their focus on those who have committed serious crimes,” U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart wrote the Editorial Board. “I am willing and ready to work with the administration on fixing our dysfunctional immigration system.”
“I’m heartened by the indication that deporting DREAMers is not the top issue for the Trump administration,” U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, told the Board in an email. “These young people are contributing to our economy and participating as active members of our society. They should be afforded every opportunity to continue to giving back to our country, the country they know and love.”
We agreed in 2012, and we agree now.
Local politicians, community activists, even college presidents, including Miami Dade’s Eduardo Padrón, have spoken up for the DREAMers and appealed to President Trump to spare them.
In a letter last month, mayors from across the country implored him not to reverse DACA. Prominent business leaders also began lining up in opposition to repeal, too.
Together, they can take some credit for the administration’s less-harsh tone that it seems to have adopted on DACA. There’s so little to gain in DACA’s repeal. It might please Trump’s base, those to whom he continues to toss the red meat of deporting illegals.
But DREAMers still must be cautious. DACA is a form of prosecutorial discretion; it is protection that can be revoked at any time, as many feared Trump would — and still can — do.
Repealing DACA is not going to make America “great again.” In fact, it runs counter to what has made America great thus far. It will punish young people who are not responsible for their undocumented status; it will rob America of many educated people who have no connection to their homelands.
Repeal is not the solution. Concrete and cohesive national immigration reform is.