If you’re like me, you may be feeling some whiplash in terms of where things stand regarding a legislative fix for Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Between the multiple bills that have been introduced or are about to be introduced, conflicting statements (and tweets!) from the administration and members of Congress, and news that breaks on the hour, it is only natural to feel overwhelmed and confused. And let’s face it, it’s complicated. But it doesn’t have to be.
Right now, at this moment, here’s what I believe:
Reaching across the aisle to come to an agreement and protect Dreamers is the right thing to do. It will strengthen our communities and our economy rather than weaken them. Dreamers want nothing more than the opportunity to be permanent parts of the communities where they grew up, and if they are given the chance to pursue their dreams without fear and without restriction, we will all benefit.
The White House and Congress must resist the impulse to use Dreamers as a bargaining chip to enact wasteful spending on a border that is more secure than ever before. Doing so might be tempting politically, but it would be terrible policy.
Refusing to give in to that temptation is a leadership challenge, one that the president is facing right now and members of Congress (from both sides of the aisle) are facing as well. But what is right and just is not always (is it ever?) going to be the most popular from a political standpoint. Nevertheless, justice and righteousness must prevail, and in this situation, standing with young people who but for their paperwork are American through and through is where our leaders need to be.
So yes, it is heartening to read that the president is discussing a framework with congressional leaders, but a standalone bill focused exclusively on permanently protecting Dreamers is the best solution: one that avoids jeopardizing the safety and security of these young people while Congress wrangles over extraneous provisions.
I’ve seen how the sausage is made on the Hill when it comes to deal-making. This isn’t the time to get messy. It’s time to make good policy. The Dreamers, and all of America, are waiting.