Opinion » Editorial

Restore the DREAM Act


To say the least, President Trump is not renowned for either finesse or a judicious sense of timing. A case in point was the fact that, when North Korea last week was wagging its nuclear weaponry and making reckless threats against both the United States and staunch American ally South Korea, the president chose to unjustly accuse the South Koreans, who are in the Pyongyang regime's direct line of fire, of "appeasement," and to browbeat them for what he said was their unfair trade deal with the U.S.

DACA students at Rhodes College - JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • DACA students at Rhodes College

Then there was Hurricane Harvey, the monster hurricane that savaged Texas, causing billions of dollars in damages, destroying countless thousands of homes, and dislocating the lives of the state's citizens. If there was a high side to this catastrophe, it was the visible coming together of the people of Texas, across all class and ethnic lines, in heroic efforts to confront the emergency. It was a time when human fellow-feeling was the order of the day.

Not, evidently, for the current inhabitant of the White House, who, despite two showy visits to Texas, to suggest his concern, has once again flunked the test of compassion in his callous decision this week to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), a 2012 initiative by President Barack Obama that has granted work permits to nearly 800,000 young people, the children of undocumented immigrants. Huge numbers of these "Dreamers" (a term deriving from  the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, proposed — and still pending — legislation that would accomplish the same goals as DACA) were caught up in Harvey's depredations, both as victims and as rescue workers.

In fairness to the president, he was up against a Tuesday legal deadline of sorts promulgated by 10 states threatening to double down on legal action to end DACA.

And, to be sure, Trump had campaigned last year on a pledge to terminate DACA (as well as every other Obama initiative he could think of). But, as recently as last week, in the course of one of his Texas photo ops, the president proclaimed, "We love the Dreamers," giving rise to hopes that he might take another course of action.

Not so. As is so often the case, Memphis' Democratic congressman Steve Cohen has aptly summed up the moment: "President Trump's decision to end the DACA program is heartless, illogical, and un-American. DACA is a common-sense, compassionate program that helps protect from deportation young people who were brought to the United States by no choice of their own. According to the Center for American Progress, 95 percent of these DREAMers are currently either working or in school. The decision is not only harmful for the DREAMers, but also for America which relies on them for a more effective and productive workforce. I urge Congress to move quickly to protect these bright and talented young people who have significantly contributed to what makes America great."

We agree. Congress should proceed at once to pass the Dream Act or some equivalent thereof. The benefits would accrue not just to the Dreamers but to the much-vaunted American Dream itself.

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