Hundreds of thousands of young people — Americans in every way except on paper — won a reprieve from possible deportation last week. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday halted the Trump administration's plan to strip the "Dreamers" of assurances they won't be forcibly expelled to countries that many of them don't even remember.
But the ruling is a temporary reprieve. That makes it all the more urgent that Congress finally codify the protections this administration is so maliciously trying to end.
As contentious as the immigration issue is, polls have long shown one area of overwhelming agreement: Most Americans believe undocumented immigrants brought here as children shouldn't be threatened with deportation, since they didn't come here by choice but were raised here. But despite bipartisan consensus in Congress, legislation to that effect has been elusive.
President Barack Obama in 2012 addressed the issue by executive order. His Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) created a renewable two-year reprieve from deportation for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 16 and who meet strict conditions, including finishing school and keeping clean criminal records. Currently, almost 700,000 of these American-raised "Dreamers" reside here, working, going to school and living as productive members of society, with full knowledge of the government.
DACA wasn't the best solution — that would have been a law providing protection from deportation pending a path to citizenship — but fair-minded people in both parties generally accepted it as a stop-gap measure until Congress got its act together. Nonetheless, President Donald Trump, after some attempts to reach a compromise, ultimately sought to end the program.
The Supreme Court prevented that last week, in a 5-4 decision that had Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court's liberals. Roberts wrote that the administration didn't meet the "procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation" for ending DACA. It's a technical rather than philosophical rationale, which leaves the door open for the administration to carry out its malice as soon as it can get its incompetence under control.
Malice is really the only word for it. What else explains this urgency to persecute young people who personally broke no rules — and are following multiple rules now — for seemingly no reason but to feed red meat to the most xenophobic corners of Trump's base?
The administration hasn't provided "a reasoned explanation" for ending DACA because there isn't one. But that doesn't mean they won't keep trying. Trump indicated Friday they intend to do just that. Surely congressional Republicans don't want to be blamed when America watches American-raised young people who've done nothing wrong being forcibly removed to countries where they may not even speak the language. Republicans should work with Democrats to pass, and press Trump to sign, legislation making the protections of DACA permanent.
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