As suspected, the Grassley bill – which should be known as the Stephen Miller bill – is a ransom demand that unfairly asks America’s Dreamers to win relief at the expense of other immigrants.
This proposal is also a values statement – and an ugly, un-American one at that. By expanding Trump’s mass deportation force (increasing Border Patrol and ICE agents), it would target Latinos and other people of color; by slashing legal immigration levels and redefining the nuclear family (U.S. citizens would no longer be able to sponsor their parents, adult children or siblings), it would target Asians and other people of color; by eliminating the diversity visa program, it would target Africans and other people of color. In short, the Stephen Miller proposal seeks to keep out and kick out people of color.
But that is not all. The provisions to accelerate deportation hearings of children fleeing violence – yes, children – are among the most nefarious. Sending Central American children back into the burning house they fled is not who we are.
As this President and the GOP Senators have made clear, Republicans see all immigrants, including children, as potential criminals and terrorists. We – and most Americans – see hard-working, family-oriented people, who simply want a chance to live their lives, raise their families, and contribute to America.
In fact, the authors of the Grassley bill couldn’t even propose a reasonable Dreamer solution. Their claim of 1.8 million qualifying for an “earned path to citizenship” is highly suspect. They exclude the entire group of Dreamers who have been here the longest – those who were older than 30 at the time DACA was created. These men and women came to the U.S. as children just like younger Dreamers and built their lives here. They have American children. But simply because they were too “old” to qualify for DACA, they are now being deported. Excluding them from legal protections makes no sense; they have actually lived here the longest.
The bill also requires Dreamers to sign away their legal rights in exchange for obtaining immigration status. This, again, is patently un-American.
This week the Senate has a chance to do its part to end the nightmare that Trump created when he cancelled DACA. Since neither party controls 60 votes in the Senate, the only bill that can pass the chamber must be bipartisan. The full Dream Act plus reasonable border security measures is the proportional pairing that has a chance of passing the Senate on a bipartisan basis and bringing stability to Dreamers’ lives. This is the type of legislation we want to see proposed and enacted this week.
Narrow gets it done. Radical, racist and cynical does not.
Frank Sharry is the Executive Director of America’s Voice.
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