Once again, President Trump and congressional Republicans are refusing to act on immigration reform. And once again, children brought to the United States without any say in the matter are the victims, their lives in danger of being torn asunder.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments on the Trump administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. A decision is expected by summer; if the administration is successful, some 700,000 people – including as many as 300 living in Maine – who have lived exemplary lives in the U.S. since being brought here as young children would be subject to deportation to countries they hardly know.

It never should have gotten this far. DACA was itself a reaction to congressional inaction, created in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama through executive action to temporarily protect undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors.

Under the program, immigrants are allowed to continue to live and work in the U.S. under renewable two-year work permits, though it does not provide a path to permanent legal residence or citizenship.

President Trump campaigned on ending the program. He has often expressed sympathy for the so-called Dreamers, raising hope for a compromise, but his actions haven’t lived up to it.

The president at first spoke about saving DACA in exchange for money for his billion-dollar border wall. But Trump disengaged from negotiations in 2018 over a bill – pushed by Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King – that would have provided funding for border security as well as a path to citizenship for Dreamers. It fell apart when the president, at the eleventh hour, indicated he would veto it.

The president was once again caught between his political base, which is irrationally afraid of immigrants and immigration, and doing the right thing for immigrant children – and for a country built on immigration.

This is the same president who took thousands of young children from their parents at the border, some never to meet again. He has imprisoned tens of thousands more when he could have instead pursued bipartisan remedies to real problems in the immigration system.

Once again, instead of taking on the hard task of governing, the president has decided to put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk.

DACA participants came forward on the government’s promise that they would not be deported if they followed the program’s rules and stayed out of trouble.

They came here, on average, at the age of 6. Almost all of them are working; most of the rest are in school. Among them are business owners and homeowners. They are parents of U.S. citizens, and they live, work and learn alongside native-born Americans.

Each year, Dreamers contribute $42 billion to the economy. They pay more than $3 billion in local, state and federal taxes, and contribute $2 billion to Social Security and $470 million into Medicare.

Those aren’t just numbers – they are a testament to how tightly Dreamers are woven into the communities they grew up in and contribute to. They have no connection to the home countries they left years ago as young children, and have proved themselves to be good citizens here in all but name only.

They don’t deserve to have their future decided by a Supreme Court concerned over things like presidential power and prosecutorial discretion, not the logistics and humanity of the matter.

Instead, the Senate should pass the Dream and Promise Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers and other similarly situated immigrants. It has already passed in the House, and such a move is widely supported by Americans.

The Dreamers aren’t political pawns any more than children migrants are, and they shouldn’t be treated that way.


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