President Donald Trump said as recently as last week that “We love the Dreamers … We think the Dreamers are terrific.”

He was referring to the estimated 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States as minors, and ultimately offered protection from deportation by former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

On Tuesday, his administration rescinded DACA.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions described DACA as unconstitutional, subject to likely legal challenges and an example of the nation’s failure to enforce immigration laws.

At least 100 people rallied in Honolulu on Tuesday to protest President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind the DACA protections for young immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Hawaii’s four representatives in Congress had a very different description of the administration’s action, calling it heartless, inhumane, unnecessary, an injustice, a betrayal and simply wrong.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard noted that DACA had allowed more than 600 young people in Hawaii to remain legally in the country to contribute to the economy and society. They include a member of Gabbard’s staff from Zimbabwe.

Now, as a result of Trump’s action, Congress has until March to pass legislation preserving the status of Dreamers. At stake are not only the the lives of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants whose parents brought them to the United States, but the nation’s reputation as a beacon of hope.

Time To Act

There are at least four congressional bills that offer protection for Dreamers. The best is The Dream Act of 2017. The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Sen. Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, and co-sponsored by GOP senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Dick Durbin of Illinois, who introduced the original Dream Act in 2001, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are Democratic co-sponsors.

HR 3440 would allow anyone who arrived in the U.S. younger than 18 and who has been in the country for at least four years to obtain permanent residency by applying for a green card. The conditions include having a job or staying in school, as well as not committing any crimes.

The House version of the bill comes from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, a Democrat from California, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat from Hawaii, has signed on.

A child holds a sign at the Honolulu rally to protest the decision to rescind DACA.

Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

“America has already invested in these young people by educating them in our schools, and they are now a vital part of our workforce,” Roybal-Allard said in a press release Wednesday. “They contribute to our economic growth and our society as teachers, engineers, nurses, and small business owners. The DREAM Act would strengthen America by keeping these talented and ambitious young people in our country, rather than losing their talents to foreign competitors.”

The biggest challenge to swift passage of the DREAM Act is the Republican-controlled House and Senate and the cruel nonsense about Dreamers spewed by the diehard nativist (read: white) segment of the GOP.

 

How To Contact Congress

The hogwash includes the myths that DACA is amnesty, that Dreamers don’t pay taxes and are college freeloaders, and that Dreamers steal jobs from American workers.

That is not the case.

“On a large scale or in the long run, there is no reason to think DACA recipients have a major deleterious effect on American workers’ employment chance,” NPR reported this week. “What’s more, some economists believe DACA is actually a boost to the economy.”

According to one report, some researchers estimate that the absence of DACA workers “would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by more than $400 billion over a decade’s time.

A survey from the Center for American Progress reports that at least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ DACA immigrants, while 97 percent of DACA respondents were currently employed or enrolled in school.

As dysfunctional as Congress and Trump have been, a bipartisan bill could emerge.

A U.S. Senate panel is expected to begin considering a DACA fix next week, while House leadership has said six months is adequate time to find a legislative solution.

Even Trump said he would sign the DREAM Act, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Relying on a consistent Trump is foolish. When it comes to the future of DACA, the president seems primarily interested in passing the responsibility on to others. It wasn’t coincidental that Sessions, not Trump, made the announcement.

It’s time for Congress to get it right.

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