Sullivan Dreamers wait too

Being in the room for a meeting of the Sullivan County Human Rights Commission was a chance to see up close the deep personal anguish experienced by a young person facing the reality that she might be kicked out of the only country she’s ever really known.

Iris was brought to Liberty as a very young child, entered the Liberty Central School District system, was crushed when she found out at age 13 she was undocumented, was revived at age 15 by the adoption of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—then had her hopes dashed again this month when President Donald Trump decided to rescind DACA. As detailed in a news story on page 1, Iris is, like many other Dreamers, one of our friends and neighbors, working hard to achieve the American Dream as a nurse.

Speaking of DACA recipients Trump has said, “I have a great heart for the folks we are talking about, a great love for them.” He said the implementation would not begin for six months. It’s a little like saying, “I’m going to hold a gun to your head for six months, but hopefully Congress will figure out a way that I won’t have to pull the trigger.” Then, because he is clearly conflicted over the whole issue he added, “And if Congress can’t fix it, maybe I’ll just put the gun down.”

Actually, it’s probably good for the Dreamers that Trump really doesn’t seem to care about the fine points of any public policy—he just likes to be seen in a favorable light. He likes to be seen as winning. That’s certainly part of the reason he started to do political horse-trading with the Democrats on the DACA issue and regarding the budget (since which, incidentally, his approval ratings have actually gone up a tick or two).

The problem for Dreamers like Iris is that many Republicans at the national level—and that’s where this decision will be made—do care a great deal about the fine points of policy, especially immigration policy, and many of them insist that these people who were brought here illegally by their parents should never receive amnesty or a path to citizenship.

Conservative commentators are turning on Trump with angry rhetoric. Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter took to Twitter to berate him. She wrote, “Put a fork in Trump, he’s dead. At this point, who DOESN’T want Trump impeached?”

Even one of Trump’s most loyal supporters, Sean Hannity, is showing skepticism. His Tweet said, “Weak Rs have betrayed voters. @POTUS needs to stay the course and keep his promises or it’s over! [House minority leader Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate minority leader Chuck] Schumer can never be trusted.”

But Republicans are split on the issue. Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, who has been a big supporter of reforming the nation’s immigration laws, was in favor of Trump’s effort to work with Democrats to get the job done. He said he thought Trump would work for a deal that would be good for the country as a whole.

The Congressman who represents Sullivan County, John Faso, said he supports “Congress addressing DACA legislatively and [I] believe that Congress must address this issue within the next six months.” He has co-sponsored two bills regarding DACA; both would allow Dreamers to stay in the United States for a certain amount of time, one for three years and another for five years. Rep. Tom Marino, whose district includes Wayne and Pike counties, has not commented on the issue to this point.

So it’s possible some sort of deal to keep or replace DACA could be reached, but the devil will be in the details. Democrats will want a path to citizenship for children who were brought to this country by their parents, as Trump said, “through no fault of their own.”

On another issue, Trump has tweeted “CHAIN MIGRATION cannot be allowed to be part of any legislation on Immigration!” Chain immigration allows legal immigrants to apply to have members of their extended families enter the country legally. That was, incidentally, the method Trump’s mother, then Mary Anne MacLeod, used to immigrate to the United States from Scotland back in 1927.

On September 15, Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said that the administration would be laying out “specific priorities and principles” of proposed immigration legislation in the next seven to 10 days.

Perhaps then the Democrats and Republicans will be able to make meaningful progress on the issue of immigration, which no Congress has been able to do since the one that was in session when Ronald Reagan was president.

In the meantime, the gun has been cocked, the clock ticks, and the futures of people like Iris hang in the balance.

 

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