Don’t let time run out for DREAMers

Miami Herald Editorial Board

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thought she had a DACA deal with President Trump.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thought she had a DACA deal with President Trump. Getty Images

As the year comes to an end, Congress is in a hurry to pass — or halt — President Trump’s tax reform mandate. That and alleged sexual misconduct by congressional lawmakers are grabbing all the headlines.

Unfortunately, finding a solution to rescue from deportation 800,000 DREAMers, young immigrants protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program is no longer on the radar.

That should not continue. Instead, Congress should pass the a DREAM Act.

If lawmakers fail to act in December, young DREAMers across the country will face deportation. Their only recourse by March 2018 will be fleeing the only country they’ve known or to again recede into the shadows.

Basically, Happy Holidays from Congress.

Despite their common interest in keeping DREAMers in the country, Democrats and Republicans have major differences in what they'd like to see in the final bill. Conservatives want an e-verify program that would prohibit the hiring of undocumented immigrants as well as an end to the visa diversity program. Democrats want to give DREAMers a path towards citizenship, the better route.

At this point, could Democrats agree to Trump’s demands for an immigration package that would couple new enforcement measures with striking a deal to rescue the DREAMers?

The president has been two-faced about the DREAMers. Trump has repeatedly expressed compassion for these young adults brought to this country as children, illegally, by their parents. But that couldn’t last. He’s made it clear he sees them as no more than bargaining chips to advance his immigration agenda. The White House has said that its immigration priorities do not include DACA until after the border is secure. End of discussion.

In hopes of bringing the plight of DREAMers back to the forefront, activists plan a final, major push in December to get Congress to save the DREAMers.

Back in September, the administration ended the DACA program, saying termination would come after a six-month delay to give Congress time to pass a legislative fix.

Nothing has materialized since an initial effort by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California led to a deal struck over Chinese food with President Trump, who eventually backed away from the tentative pact.

The big push to save the young immigrants starts this week, when caravans of DREAMers will start arriving in Washington. Activists are planning rallies in front of the White House, sit-ins on Capitol Hill and, possibly, acts of civil disobedience, the Miami Herald reported.

The business community is also getting involved, setting up a “war room” next week inside the Capitol where Republican and Democratic supporters can conduct satellite interviews with national and local press.

It’s irresponsibly typical of Congress to put off prickly issues like this until the 11th hour. It would be cruel to let the DREAMers down. Their lives will be upended — from losing jobs to wrenching families apart. Make no mistake: This nation, too, would lose: young people who are in school, who are working and contributing to the nation’s tax base, who are serving in the U.S. military.

The president and Congress should treat them like people, and not like pawns.