The President’s decision not to renew Obama’s executive order allowing the children of illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA) has resulted in the reaction most of us have come to expect; instant protests and media-driven hysteria. Not one person covered by DACA has been deported since the announcement was made, but you would think the buses were lining up even as we speak. I do not like executive orders, including those resulting in something I support. I would much rather those whose job it is to pass laws do just that. I understand there are times when issues of national security arise where the President needs to act quickly, but those times are few and far between. The President has given Congress 6 months to draft some form of legislation concerning this issue and I hope they do.
I will admit to knowing little about the process of being in this country legally. I was puzzled by the fact that so many of those affected by DACA, the so-called Dreamers, had not simply taken the steps to become American citizens. I did not know until just recently Dreamers were required to follow the same procedures as any other illegal immigrant, which includes leaving the U.S. and requesting to be allowed back in. I have no problem with people who are here illegally being deported and required to follow the process if they desire citizenship. They are plainly breaking the law and should not be allowed to continue doing so. The Dreamers, however, constitute a different situation. They were brought here as children. Many of them never knew their home country and have no home there. Why would they be required to return to a country of which they have no memory? This makes no sense to me.
I have a pretty simple solution for your consideration. I’m sure there are nuances and legal technicalities which would prevent any simple solution, but you have to start somewhere, and I intend to start with common sense and logic. So, I’ll lay this out and you tell me what you think.
For those Dreamers who are 18 years or older, if they are employed full time or are enrolled in college, they should be administered the test required for citizenship free of charge as soon as possible. If they pass, they can take the oath and become full-fledged American citizens. They should be required to take the test within one year of passage of the bill.
Any Dreamer convicted of a felony, violent misdemeanor, or drug-related crime should be deported immediately.
Any Dreamer who serves in the military receives citizenship along with their honorable discharge or after 4 years of service.
Dreamers who are younger than 18 are afforded these same opportunities upon their 18th birthday.
Anyone not meeting these conditions should be deported as soon as possible.
Once citizenship has been obtained, any special college financial aid or funding geared for Dreamers ends with the end of the current academic year. They will be eligible for the same financial aid opportunities as every other citizen.
This idea will only work if the flow of illegal immigrants and their children is stopped, which will only happen if there are consequences for their decision to try and stay here illegally. I don’t begrudge anyone wanting to come here and make a better life for themselves and their family. But we are a nation of laws, and there are clear, legal means of living here and becoming an American. If they truly want to be here, they should be willing to take the oath of citizenship and mean it. If the parents of the Dreamers would have done it, we would not be having this conversation. I would not be opposed to providing a similar opportunity to those adults who have come here illegally. I see no reason why we can’t encourage those who have grown up in this country to become productive citizens. They had no choice in coming here, but it should be their choice to stay here legally. We should give them that choice.