Originally published by The Washington Post
President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the anti-immigration crowd claim that so-called sanctuary cities cause crime, that a wall along the border with Mexico is essential and that illegal immigrants are stealing our jobs (despite unemployment being at 4.1 percent). The reality is quite different.
For starters, apprehensions of illegal immigrants are at a low point. ABC News reports: “During fiscal year 2017, there were a total of 310,531 apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol nationwide. That’s the lowest it’s been in at least 17 years.” That’s a result of unleashing and expanding the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) forces, although contrary to Trump’s representations, non-criminal illegal immigrants are being swept up at a stunning rate — more than 50 percent compared to last year, according to ABC News — often resulting in the separation of families.
The human cost of expelling otherwise law-abiding and productive immigrants should not be minimized. BuzzFeed reported last month:
Another migrant father who crossed into the United States seeking asylum is accusing immigration agents of threatening him in order to separate him from his three-year-old son. Eric Matute Castro, 33, is the second father to make such an allegation to BuzzFeed News. The accusations, immigrant advocates say, reinforces what they believe is an effort by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol to discourage Central American immigration by separating parents from their kids.
Meanwhile, public opinion remains strongly opposed to a wall and strongly supportive of allowing beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy to remain. Even Republicans have figured out the equities are with the “dreamers.” Thirty-four Republicans wrote to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on Tuesday arguing for immediate action on a DACA fix:
We are compelled to act immediately because many DACA recipients are about to lose or have already lost their permits in the wake of the program’s rescission. Not acting is creating understandable uncertainty and anxiety amongst immigrant communities.
While we firmly believe Congress must work to address other issues within our broken immigration system, it is imperative that Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and not wait until next year. We all agree that our border must be enforced, our national security defended and our broken immigration system reformed, but in this moment, we must address the urgent matter before us in an approach that does not harm valuable sectors of our economy nor the lives of these hard-working young people.
If hard-line anti-immigration lawmakers such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have their way, the DACA issue will be thrown into an never-ending free-for-all debate on comprehensive immigration reform — which those same anti-immigration hawks will obstruct.
Here’s an idea: Trump should declare victory, pronounce the illegal immigration system solved (it largely has been), drop the silly wall idea and do a simple DACA fix as part of the spending bill. He’ll get cheers from “Chuck and Nancy,” lift another political weight off the GOP’s chest and actually accomplish something that President Barack Obama could not — a permanent solution for the dreamers. If, however, Republicans urging a DACA fix remain afraid of their own shadows and refuse to make this a condition of the budget talks, the Tom Cottons will prevail and Trump won’t get his “win.” Republicans should stop writing letters and start withholding votes.