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Give 'Dreamers' permanent legal status

Congress should enact the provisions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program into law. There is no good reason not to. The program allows young adults who were brought to the country as children to get higher education and a job without fear of deportation.

For most of them, the United States is the only home they know. They had no control over the decision made by their parents to bring them here outside the legal immigration process. Polls consistently show the program is popular with the American people, who recognize its fairness.

But it has existed on a shaky legal foundation, the result of an executive action by President Obama in 2012. Last week a federal judge ruled Obama had exceeded his executive authority, in part for failing to follow the rules of the Administrative Procedure Act, including not providing a public comment period.

Appeals could well lead to the U.S. Supreme Court which, in June 2020, ironically enough, blocked President Trump’s efforts to terminate the program because his administration had not followed the Administrative Procedure Act dictates.

About 616,000 “Dreamers” have been accepted into the DACA program, while the applications of another 55,000 remain backlogged. The recent ruling by Judge Andrew S. Hanen of the U.S. District Court in Houston provides some protection, ordering immigration authorities not to “take any immigration, deportation or criminal action” against them that it “would not otherwise take.”

Meanwhile, the application process has been frozen.

The bottom line is that the hundreds of thousands of residents who came forward under the DACA program with assurances they would be protected, instead remain in a legal limbo, unsure of their long-term status and facing the threat some future administration could deport them to countries that are only strange lands to them.

We agree with President Biden’s policy goal to provide these young adults not only with legal protection but eventually a path to earning citizenship. But if that political hill is too steep, then at least some permanent legal status should be granted while the debate continues.

This has gone on for 20 years, since 2001 when the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) was first proposed to give legal status to undocumented youth. Continued Republican opposition to supplying legal status to these Dreamers makes no sense, except to appeal to anti-immigrant fervor. What a terrible reason not to do the right thing.

 

 

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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