Very little polarizes our communities and nation more than immigration issues. The only thing that people on all sides can agree on is that current policies aren’t working. Beyond that, it’s chaotic shouting and finger-pointing.
We side with those seeking a humane approach to dealing with the families of undocumented immigrants. It’s neither worth our government’s time nor worthy of our ideals to chase down children raised in our midst just to send them someplace they can barely recall. Similarly, absent criminal activities, deporting parents of American citizens shouldn’t be high on the Department of Homeland Security’s priority list. Law enforcement has better things to worry about – like catching and deporting criminals.
We also strongly support efforts like those of Rep. Jeff Denham to put those who serve in our military on a fast-track to citizenship.
Those who deplore the presence of anyone who arrived without permission are delighted by the ruling of 5th District Court Judge Andrew Hanen. Monday, he ruled President Barack Obama’s efforts to prioritize immigration enforcement would create a burden for Texas and 25 other states who sued to keep the government from initiating programs to shield some from deportation.
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Forms to sign up for the programs were supposed to be released Wednesday.
Everyone would have preferred a legislated solution, but Congress has proved incapable of addressing an issue that’s been with us for decades.
So, in November, the president ordered that two programs – Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – be established to deprioritize deporting those who pose no threat. Neither grants citizenship to anyone – and shouldn’t. Both provide those who register three years to get things sorted out – including paying their taxes.
Yes, there are plenty of criminal immigrants who should be identified, caught and removed. But that’s a small percentage of the estimated 11 million people here illegally. Of those, the children of immigrants and the parents of young citizens represent about 4.4 million people. Most do more good than harm to society.
Many congressional Republicans reacted with vehemence. Their latest ploy has been to refuse funding for the Department of Homeland Security (which oversees immigration). It is inconceivable that anyone would deny money – akin to oxygen for government – to those whose job it is to protect our shores even as terrorists are murdering innocents in France, Denmark and Syria.
Here in the Central Valley, this is no abstract issue. Some say a quarter of those affected by DAPA and DACA live in California.
Most immigrant groups feel the judge’s decision will only delay the implementation of the programs. We’re not so sure.
If this becomes a case about presidential overreach, higher courts might find merit in Judge Hanen’s decision. If it is about fairness to families and humane treatment for productive non-citizens, then the judge’s order will be struck down.
If there’s a silver lining, it could be that congressional Republicans might now fully fund the Department of Homeland Security. They no longer need the hostage.