Opinion: Separate DACA from DREAM Act – and put immigration enforcement first

Three researchers contend educators must consider their role in supporting DACA recipients and undocumented immigrant youth. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Credit: Maureen Downey

Credit: Maureen Downey

Three researchers contend educators must consider their role in supporting DACA recipients and undocumented immigrant youth. NICK WAGNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

D.A. King is president of the Georgia-based Dustin Inman Society, which advocates for enforcement of immigration laws.

In this piece, King responds to a blog last week about a letter to Congress from national educational leaders beseeching Congress to provide permanent stability for young people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA status.

By D.A. King

In her education blog a few days ago, Maureen Downey wrote about a letter to Congress from school leaders including Georgia charter school leader and former Cobb state Rep. Alisha Morgan asking that illegal aliens with executive amnesty through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals be given a path to U.S. citizenship.

She cites passage of  the proposed DREAM Act as a solution to making Americans of people brought here illegally as children by their parents. This argument creates an "apples and oranges" conversation. It is important to note the difference between DACA, an executive action under President Obama, and the amnesty outlined in the language of any possible federal DREAM  Act — the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.

According to a September United States Citizenship and Immigration Services report, there are 689,800 illegal aliens with DACA status, with 21,600 of them living in Georgia. Congressional amnesty for those 689,800 DACA recipients is far different from passage of current versions of the DREAM Act, which, according to the Migration Policy Institute, could provide legalization for more than three million illegal aliens, far more than the "one-time" Republican amnesty of 1986. (Approved under President Ronald Reagan, the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act gave a pathway to citizenship to 2.7 million undocumented people.)

The DREAM Act has failed in Congress several times since it was cooked up in 2001 because of the duplicity of its authors in hiding its true intent and the fact it was a rerun of  1986. It will be much more difficult to trick the American public on immigration amnesty again.

That said, it would make a lot of people happy to see a bargain on real enforcement for a limited, conditional, truly one-time legislative event that would grant legalization to a portion of  "the children" (some of whom are now 36-years-old) who have already registered for Obama's DACA program -- and that limited group only.

One of the lessons of the 1986 amnesty is that nobody here illegally – of any age and no matter how they got here – should ever again be rewarded with U.S. citizenship. Neither should they ever be allowed to sponsor their parents or other family members for naturalization or admittance into the United States.

The obvious but mostly unpublicized danger of allowing a Congressional DACA amnesty "for the children" is that even now, illegal aliens are flowing over the border with children in tow. Are we to have an amnesty "for the children" every decade or so?

To deter the sure-to-come illegal rush of additional of victims of borders seeking the next "dreamer" amnesty, any consideration of legalization for DACA recipients should be well after legislation has been passed, funding appropriated and significant progress has been made on implementation of badly needed nationwide work-place verification (E-Verify), true border security - including President Trump's promised border barrier - increased interior immigration enforcement and the biometric system to monitor the departure of temporary visa holder's departure from the U.S. which is already law, but not practice.

About half of the illegal aliens now present in our nation did not come here illegally. They came on temporary visas and never intended to leave as promised. The Department of Homeland Security reports that last year alone, 629,000 visa holders overstayed their visas as students, workers or tourists.

All weeping and howling that we must grant amnesty and citizenship to “the children” – and that we must never “break up families” -- should be met with  educated and obvious reality.  In addition to the children being brought over our borders illegally right now, last week, next week and next year, parents of the potential 2027 push “for the children” amnesty are flouting the fact their tourist visa to visit Disney World expired while they enroll their now illegal alien anchors in the American school system.

More reality is that many of DACA recipients are protesting in American streets demanding an end to any immigration enforcement. Waving signs that read “ICE OUT OF GEORGIA --NOT ONE MORE DEPORTATION!” does little for their amnesty cause among mainstream America.

Reality should matter on immigration and amnesty.

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