One of the issues Congress is grappling with is the sticky issue of the status of DACA recipients. Those covered under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) were brought to the country illegally as children and teenagers, and as adults they were granted deferment from deportation. But President Donald Trump suspended the program in September.
This will be a contentious issue during the debate leading up to the Jan. 19 deadline to pass the 2018 fiscal year budget. Surprisingly, 34 GOP representatives are among those supporting legalization for the 690,000 current DACA recipients, and they recently sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan urging a “permanent legislative solution” for DACA recipients.
One of those signatories is Maine’s 2nd District representative, Bruce Poliquin. The “solution” mentioned in the letter is not defined, but it goes on to say that any remedy must give “them the opportunity to apply for a more secured status in our country as soon as possible.”
Poliquin asserts he is against amnesty, but anyone with even a casual knowledge of immigration issues knows that granting legal status eventually leads to citizenship, in spite of whatever restrictions would be included in any legislative solution. Any legalization leading to citizenship would, through chain migration for family members, expand the number far beyond the 690,000 DACA recipients into the millions, dwarfing the 1986 law that saw amnesty given to 2.7 million illegal aliens.
Instead of spending time on considering amnesty, more attention should be given to border and other security issues. Indeed, the letter to Ryan states, “we all agree that our border must be enforced, our national security defended, and our broken immigration system reformed.”
Kate’s Law was introduced in response to the killing of Kate Steinle in 2015 in San Francisco by an illegal alien, who had been deported five times. A jury in November acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of murder in Steinle’s killing.
It should not have happened. San Francisco is one of the several hundred “sanctuary cities” around the country that have prohibited local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration enforcement officials. Kate’s Law would increase the maximum sentences for non-criminal and criminal aliens who “unlawfully reenter the United States.”
The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act would require “sanctuary jurisdictions” to cooperate with immigration enforcement officials, and if they do not do so, they would be ineligible for federal law enforcement grants.
Let’s not forget that Portland has an ordinance barring city officials and police from asking anyone about his or her immigration status, a measure that resulted in the Center for Immigration Studies classifying it as one of the 340 sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States.
These two bills would directly address the national security concerns Poliquin and the other 33 representatives noted in their letter to Ryan. Kate’s Law and No Sanctuary for Criminals Act have both passed the U.S. House of Representatives and were sent to the U.S. Senate.
Consider this: President Barack Obama exceeded his authority by establishing DACA, usurping the authority of Congress under Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the authority “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
Granting amnesty to DACA recipients is an act that would endorse Obama’s unconstitutional action.
Poliquin should reject the idea of a “permanent legislative solution” — amnesty — for DACA recipients, remove his name from the letter to Ryan, and focus on the border and other security items.
Bob Casimiro is executive director of Mainers for Responsible Immigration. He lives in Bridgton.
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