This week President Trump began the process of winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) that was instituted by President Obama by executive order. The program prevented the deportation of those adults who are not here legally but were brought to the United States as children by parents who were not here legally. “Dreamers” are essentially those who want Obama’s executive order to become law through the DREAM Act (short for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). Well, I have a dream, too.
Let me preface my dream with a few observations.
Who Is to Blame?
First, the children of those brought here by their parents’ illegal entrance into this country are not culpable in the decision to enter illegally. Though the average age of “Dreamers” covered by DACA is estimated to be between 22 and 25, they did not create their illegal status of their own volition. Unfortunately, however, children often bear the “sins” of their parents.
Second, the child’s parents aren’t the only ones having a measure of culpability in creating their child’s illegal status. While there will always be families here illegally, the magnitude of the problem is the result of failures by past presidents and Congresses to uniformly and routinely enforce our immigration laws.
Third, notwithstanding the “sins” of those who created the problem, no dependent child should be deported without his or her parents being deported as well. However, at some point the child becomes an adult and is, in fact, here illegally. Of course, Congress can exercise its legislative power to bestow citizenship or some other form of legal status on them or provide a means by which they can lawfully obtain citizenship status, and that brings me to my next point.
Congress is inept, irresponsible, and willing to shirk its constitutional duties to avoid making tough decisions—either by taking steps to “encourage” or demand presidential enforcement of existing immigration policy or by changing the policies that define an illegal presence in our country so as to conform to current practice. Thus, Congress was willing to let a president get by with an unconstitutional executive order.
What Is the Dream?
So, with all that being said, what is my dream? It’s that someday we will have presidents and members of Congress who have at least a limited understanding of the rule of law and will take it seriously.
If they will not believe in the real rule of law—that civil laws should have as their foundation and be judged for their rightness by the laws laid down by our Creator God—then may they at least believe in a rule of law that requires them to adhere to the Constitution, with presidents not doing the work of the legislature by executive order and Congress challenging unconstitutional usurpations of its power by the executive branch.
Dreaming With My Eyes Wide Open
But right now, it seems that other things are more important to a number of us than even a constitutionally-based rule of law. Many business owners don’t care about the rule of law, for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that rescission of DACA could lead to the deportation of employees and, of course, those deported would be consumers of their goods. Republican leadership doesn’t seem to care about the rule of law, because the rescission of DACA puts them on the spot with the DREAM Act, the passage of which might irritate the Republican electoral base that elected President Trump. Democratic leadership doesn’t seem to care about the rule of law because rescission of DACA eliminates benefits that appeal to their electoral base.
Thus, I suspect that my dream will go unrealized for the time being, at least until the rule of law regains its rightful place in the minds of a majority of us, and we have candidates that we can, in good conscience, vote for who understand and govern according to the rule of law. But if others can dream, then so can I.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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