President Trump was right in forcing Congress to deal with the fate of children who came to this country illegally with their parents.
It is Congress’ job to address controversial issues such as this and follow the will of the people.
Of all the issues regarding illegal immigrants, this should be the least controversial and the easiest to fix.
What is of concern is that Congress has been trying to solve this problem for 16 years without success, so President Trump may be forced to revisit the issue in six months. The future of 800,000 immigrants who grew up in this country is at stake.
The DREAM Act — Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — was first introduced in Congress in 2001 with sponsors from both parties lending support.
The concept and outline of that original bill still make sense today. Keep in mind that some of the details have changed back and forth over the years.
To obtain conditional resident status, individuals must:
Have proof they entered the United States before the age of 16 and must have continuously lived in the country for at least five years.
Have graduated from a United States high school or obtained a GED in the United States.
Demonstrated good moral character.
Pass a criminal background check and reviews.
It seems clear this law would not let just anyone into the country.
For permanent residency, an individual must:
Have attended an institution of higher learning or served in the United States military for at least two years and if discharged, have received an honorable discharge.
Pass another series of background checks.
Continue to demonstrate good moral character.
This is clearly not “amnesty.” It is clear that anyone hoping to stay in this country permanently is going to have to earn it.
Versions of the DREAM Act came and went over the years as it became increasingly politicized around the immigration issue. Several times the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill, only to see it come up short of the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.
At one point in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the latest version of the DREAM Act would reduce federal deficits by about $1.4 billion (between 2011 and 2020) and increase federal revenues by $2.3 billion over 10 years.
Still, it was not passed.
In 2012, President Obama announced that the U.S. would stop deporting illegal immigrants who matched the criteria in the DREAM Act. Later that year, Obama ordered the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to begin. Thousands of young illegal immigrants applied to the new program. It is estimated that some 800,000 are in the program that President Trump says will end if Congress does not act.
We hope Congress returns to the original promise of the legislation in 2001 — supported by many in both parties — that would allow young people and current students who lived most of their lives in the United States to remain and contribute to our society.
As our recent immigration series showed, there are many local residents who will be affected.
The children should not be punished for the sins of the parents, especially if they have proved they belong.