When President Donald Trump announced last September that he was terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he gave Congress six months to come up with a solution.
Now, that cushion of half a year has been whittled down to just 10 days, and our elected officials are perhaps even further from a suitable fix than they were last fall. Congress has had months to address this political third rail, yet too few have deemed it enough of a priority to solve it before that deadline.
Lawmakers had ample lead time. Unfortunately, the body continues to lack the political will to match the will of Americans, who overwhelmingly support a solution to offer the so-called Dreamers residency.
What’s worth noting is that of the four immigration bills defeated by the Senate last week, the one that came closest to receiving the 60 votes necessary for approval was the bipartisan measure that fell just six votes short of passage, despite being blasted by Trump shortly before the vote. Meanwhile, a proposal hasn’t even reached the House floor.
Holding a hard, partisan line on either side of the aisle isn’t going to solve this divisive topic. Instead, both sides will need to give a little to get a little. Yet that art of compromise has largely been replaced by a view of the world where black and white are crowding out the shades of gray.
This topic isn’t as simple as the “What part of illegal don’t you understand?” crowd frames it.
By virtue of their age, children brought to the United States by their parents were unable to commit anything that constitutes a crime. As a matter of practicality, these youth were raised as Americans, regardless of which flag flew over their birth nation.
Beyond that, the sheer number of Dreamers makes it difficult to comprehend the impact of inaction.
The most frequently used figure estimates that roughly 800,000 young immigrants have enrolled in DACA. That’s more than four states and the District of Columbia. If March 5 rolls around without an answer, a population greater than that of North Dakota — many of whom have earned college degrees and/or served in the military — is no longer protected from deportation.
In Nebraska, the generally accepted number of DACA recipients is around 3,000. Only 44 communities in the state reported more residents than that in the 2010 Census. Again, absent a solution, it would be akin to making nearly the entirety of Waverly eligible for forcible removal from the country.
Uncertainty surrounding Dreamers isn’t a small or isolated problem, as these numbers illustrate.
Unfortunately, inactivity and inflexibility have left this large quandary without a solution with only a small amount of time before this inaction has major consequences on young immigrants in Nebraska and across the country.