Dream a Little Dream

Neither rapist nor drug dealer.
This week saw our president do something that no other president has ever done. He signed an Executive Order to force Congress to deal with an issue. By doing this he ensures a nifty win/win situation for himself; if congress actually accomplishes this (something they have not been able to do previously) then the president can say he solved a centuries old problem; if Congress fails then he can say he tried, blame everyone but himself, make his base happy, and then do whatever he wants. Oddly, all signs seem to point to him not actually killing DACA. While doing so would make his base happy it would be political suicide nationally and we have a president who is married to public perception. Also he is surrounded by people would like to be re-elected. No matter the issue he eventually bends with the wind. In this case the issue is immigration. While many on the left hand side, pass that Dutchie kids, have said this will cause the U.S. to deport 800,000+ children to their certain deaths and many on the right have bemoaned that we need to rid our country of 800,000+ adults, all of whom are a drain on society, if we are to restore law to the lands, neither quite illuminates the real issues. This is one of those rare instances where both sides are so glaringly wrong that, should you allow their combination in the same brain, they could cause a cerebral tautology. So we need to step back and see what is really what before we continue typing IN ALL CAPS on various social media outlets.

Let’s take the two most common arguments, listed above, in order.

We will be condemning children to horrible fates.

1) DACA is a program to protect DREAMers — unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as children in the 1990s to mid-2000s, the US started building up enforcement on the US/Mexico border, with a huge unintended consequence: Many unauthorized immigrants avoided repeated risky border crossings by settling in the US with their families. (Previously, unauthorized immigrants had mostly been working-age men who crossed back and forth to the US for work while their families stayed in their home countries.)

Around the same time, changes to US law made it nearly impossible for an immigrant to get legal status if they’d lived in the country illegally. So the children who crossed illegally into the US with their parents were growing up in a country where they could never become legal residents or citizens.

These children became known as DREAMers, after the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation meant to give them a path to citizenship first introduced in 2001. But with that legislation stalled in Congress, President Barack Obama in 2012 created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. While it didn’t give them a path to citizenship, DACA offered DREAMers a temporary grant of protection from deportation and a permit to work legally in the US. The protections last two years, after which immigrants can apply to renew for them.

Not all DREAMers, though, became DACA recipients. To apply for DACA, immigrants have to have come to the US before 2007, and have been 15 or younger when they arrived and younger than 31 when DACA was created in June 2012. They had to have a nearly spotless criminal record and be enrolled in high school or have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Perhaps most importantly, they have to apply. It’s estimated that about 1.3 million people would be eligible for DACA, but right now, about 800,000 people actually have it. – courtesy Vox.com

Okay, now we know how we got here and who’s involved. They were children, brought to the U.S. illegally, prior to 2007. That was ten years ago. Many, obviously, were brought here well before then which is why there was a max limit that the person could be no more than 31 years of age in 2012. So the oldest would now be 36 and the rest would be younger than that, all the way down to 10 now. That is quite a span. The youngest would, if you think about it, probably not speak their native language, not have any idea what their ancestral home is like, and probably like Bieber just as much your kids.

I should note that not all immigrants affected are Hispanic. Many are Middle Eastern Christians others are from Poland, India, China, and other parts of the globe. Therefore, when the focus is shifted to just one group you can safely assume that the person doing so is a racist asshole.

That said, while deportation would be a logistical nightmare, and cause harm on each and every DACA signatory, it’s not a death sentence.

I’ll get back to all this in a minute, but let’s deal with the second part; that these people are a drain on U.S. infrastructure, due to their increasing numbers, and society as a whole due to their illegal activities.

‘Surge of Unaccompanied Minors’

Sessions also blamed the DACA program for the surge of unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed the Mexico border, beginning in fiscal year 2012, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Sessions, Sept. 5: The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences.

This is misleading.

It is true that there was a surge of unaccompanied children that caught the Obama administration off guard in fiscal 2012. The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border peaked in fiscal 2014 at 68,541, dropping 42 percent to 39,970 in fiscal 2015 before rising again in fiscal year 2016 to 59,692.

But the children who crossed the border illegally were not eligible for DACA. As we said earlier, the criteria for DACA is continuous residence in the United States since June 15, 2007.

All the government reports on the subject that we could find said that misinformation about U.S. immigration policy may have driven some to cross the border illegally. But these reports cited multiple reasons for the surge, primarily violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2013 conducted a survey of 404 unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed into the U.S. since fiscal 2012. The U.N. survey found that 48 percent of the apprehended children “said they had experienced serious harm or had been threatened by organized criminal groups or state actors, and more than 20 percent had been subject to domestic abuse,” according to a July 3, 2014, report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

“It is not known if, and how, specific immigration policies may have influenced decisions to try to enter the United States unlawfully,” the CRS report said.

The Government Accountability Office also sought to determine the causes of the surge in a 2015 report. In that case, GAO surveyed nine federal officials stationed in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador for the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and USAID. The federal officials used “various sources of information” to identify the causes of the surge, “ranging from conducting first-hand interviews to analyzing various statistical data.”

The nine officials “most commonly identified crime and violence and economic concerns as causes primarily responsible for the recent rapid increase” in unaccompanied minors entering the U.S. illegally, the GAO report said.

Five officials told GAO that misinformation about U.S. immigration policies spread by smugglers were “a primary cause.” The example given in the report was a failed congressional attempt to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship for those living in the U.S. illegally.

Crime Risk?

In listing his reasons for rescinding DACA, Sessions also cited the need to enforce immigration laws “to ensure the safety and security of the American people.”

Sessions: We are a people of compassion and we are a people of law. But there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws. Enforcing the law saves lives, protects communities and taxpayers, and prevents human suffering. Failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.

However, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, those who committed “a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanor offenses” are not eligible for DACA. Neither are those who pose a public safety threat, which “include, but are not limited to, gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the United States.”

Also, there is no evidence that DACA holders are more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.

As we wrote in February, numerous studies have found that immigrants do not commit crimes at a higher rate than non-immigrants. A recap of the literature on this topic can be found here. A 2013 study published in American Sociological Review confirmed that immigration is strongly associated with less violence in a neighborhood.

We take no position on the merits of DACA. But Sessions’ description of the program doesn’t tell the whole story, leaving a misleading impression about DACA holders and the impact that the program has had on illegal immigration and crime. – courtsey of FactCheck.org

Let’s look at the four most commonly listed reasons for rescinding DACA.

1. DACA provided legal immigration status to illegal aliens

Jeff Sessions said that DACA “essentially provided a legal status for recipients for a renewable two-year term, work authorization, and other benefits, including participation in the social security program, to 800,000 mostly-adult illegal aliens.”

Nope. It does nothing of the sort. They don’t even have the basic rights we give to resident aliens (green card holders). They cannot collect any government benefits beyond tax refunds. Please keep in mind that the only way to get those refunds is to pay taxes in the first place. So DACA members pay taxes, pay into Social Security, and pay to support our government with few discernible for themselves. All in the, long shot, hope they can one day become citizens.

2. DACA is unconstitutional

Sessions claims that DACA was an “unconstitutional exercise of authority.” That isn’t true; this is his opinion. The issue of constitutionality, Kalhan says, “has never been resolved.” – courtesy QZ.com

3. DACA is a amnesty program

DACA is a “unilateral executive amnesty,” Sessions said. This is false. An amnesty is intended as an official blanket pardon of all offenders who receive it. DACA, however, does not cover everyone; Kalhan points out that it only applies to eligible immigrants who are then required to apply and have their individual case evaluated. It’s also only temporary, and doesn’t come cost-free: Recipients have to pay $495 when they apply for their permit, and then again every two years at the time of renewal, whether or not a renewed permit is granted. – courtesy QZ.com

4. DACA led to a surge of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the US

Nope. Those who spout this point to a surge that happened from 2011 on. Four years after the DACA cut-off. Those children were fleeing war zones, not coming here to get in on some cool deal. There is no deal for them to get in on in the first place. They are refugees in the purest sense of the word.

So where does that leave us? In a hot mess. There are those who say “illegal is illegal and, therefore, they must go.” That is shortsighted and simplistic. Shortsighted due to the fact that such an action will severely impact the American economy. Don’t take my word on it, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released its report in March of this year.

A newly updated report released today provides data that helps dispute the erroneous idea espoused during President Trump’s address to Congress that undocumented immigrants are a drain to taxpayers. In fact, like all others living and working in the United States, undocumented immigrants are taxpayers too and collectively contribute an estimated $11.74 billion to state and local coffers each year via a combination of sales and excise, personal income, and property taxes, according to Undocumented Immigrants’ State and Local Tax Contributions by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

On average, the nation’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants pay 8 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes every year. While it is unlikely to happen in the current political environment, undocumented immigrants’ state and local tax contributions could increase by up to $2.1 billion under comprehensive immigration reform, boosting their effective tax rate to 8.6 percent.

You see, it’s this last part of the report, read the full report here, that gives me hope. Governments, by their very nature, are loathe to throw money away. Especially when it’s, for all intents and purposes, free money. None of it goes back to any benefits for the people paying it. It’s all just cake for the government to do with as it pleases. And it is one huge fucking piece.

Take that Marie Antoinette.

Additionally, all hyperbole aside, the President’s order does nothing but stop new memberships. Congress now has six months to figure out the rest. As the president noted, he is free to revisit the issue at that time. Since killing it would be a revenue killer, as evidenced by the letter signed by 400 C.E.O.s., and would do irreparable harm to our economy, as already evidenced by the problems the agriculture industry is having, you can expect the push to be pro-DACA from all the President’s golf partners.

So we stand in limbo, for now. Who knows, maybe this time Congress does pass a bi-partisan bill that deal with immigrants fairly and humanely. I’m not counting on that. But I am counting on our President remaining true to form and doing what’s in his best interests. My bet is that, given his global business presence, he will soon enough become a fan of immigrants and work to make them legal.

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG (FOX! Sports) every Friday around 9:10 AM.
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