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Jewish Community’s Inappropriate Reaction to DACA Decision

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Last week, I wrote about the abuse by the Forward regarding an article I submitted on DACA.This is the column as submitted to them.

It took a Category 5 hurricane to halt the hysteria over the Trump Administration’s decision to force Congress to create legislation that would deal with individuals brought by their parents to the United States as children, an illegal act.  It is now time for Jewish leaders to help forge a solution.

You know that in 2012 President Obama issued an executive order, now known as DACA, that established a process allowing children who had entered the country illegally to stay here after meeting certain conditions.  This executive order was issued after Mr. Obama stated publicly on multiple occasions that he did not have the constitutional authority to do so and the authority rested with Congress.  After Obama issued the order he stated: “Let’s be clear: this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship, this is not a permanent fix.”

Once President Trump announced that he was giving the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) a six-month period to have Congress pass legislation dealing with the program within the framework of the law, he was viciously and widely attacked by the organized Jewish Community and others, including his predecessor.   As stated by legal expert Andrew McCarthy, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, “It is remarkable to find Obama condemning Trump for ending a program Trump has not actually ended while simultaneously defending DACA on prosecutorial principles, which Obama invoked, but did not follow, and which Trump is actually following while preserving Obama’s unconstitutional program.”

The Jewish Community chimed in with overwrought statements.  David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, called Trump’s action “a betrayal of the nation’s soul.”  He stated “I am saddened and ashamed.”  Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO said, “This action by the president and his administration is cruel, unnecessary and inconsistent with the core values of our Country.”  In a more civil tone, but wholly overstated, David Bernstein, CEO of JCPA, added,

“Our government made a promise to protect these young people who were brought to this country as children, who know no other country but the United States, and who seek only to live and work without fear.”

On these pages, the tone was even less civil.  Professor Samuel G. Freedman of Columbia University used terminology that could only be meant to assuage his own distaste for Trump and added little to the discussion of how to solve our immigration policy failings.  Using terminology such as demolish, vengeful, bully-coward, ruthless act as part of a reign of terror and accusing President Trump of anti-Semitism, if not racism, does not advance the public debate on this most important issue – it only enhances the hysteria in the populace. 

None of these entities addressed the source of this issue -- the lawless act by President Obama.  In fact, the ADL commended Obama in 2012 though they were aware of subverting the Constitution in his action.  Rarely did any of these organizations even call for Congress to act responsibly and/or enact proper legislation. 

They only cited their feelings about the applicants to the program and specific examples of individuals who are here under the program who are success stories.  They omitted any consideration of the following:

  1. There are 787, 580 applicants to the DACA program.The Migration Policy Institute said in 2016 that 1,900,000 were eligible for the program (there are another estimated 500,000 here that are age appropriate, but not qualified for the program). Though we can believe some of the non-participants are good people who have for legitimate reasons not applied for the program, it is foolhardy to assume that all 1,100,000 are all good fellows.  We know some are gang members, criminals or other persons of ill repute.  That never seems to enter the discussion.
  2. Let’s say you are young parents in Guatemala with a 10-year-old daughter, and you illegally enter the U.S. where (after a period) your child will be able to register to stay here legally. Your daughter will get an American-paid education through high school and possibly an American-paid college education.  These parents have made that decision -- not the people of the U.S. or their legally-elected representatives.

That ignores there are young parents in Cambodia or Nigeria who would like to make that same decision.  But it is virtually impossible for them to come here because of the distance.  So those Guatemalan parents make the decision in this case for our immigration policy -- not the Cambodians, Nigerians or most importantly Americans.     

We know there are registrants for DACA that are doing good things.  There are currently 900 in the U.S. military.  Any committed American would applaud their choice. Many are completing high school and many are attending college and working industriously.  That is not the point.  The point is this is not the way to create public policy.  

You don’t get to circumvent the U.S. Constitution for an action that makes you feel warm and fuzzy, nor should you. 

Here is the irony: if this executive order could stand as it is unlawfully constituted, it would give license to President Trump to follow suit on issues of his own liking.  Those who vehemently oppose his orderly transition to hopefully a lawful action would go berserk if Trump used Obama’s precedent as justification for an action that was also clearly unconstitutional, but appallingly unappealing to them.  Thus, they should be the first in line demanding Congress pass immigration reform that would allow the actions of DACA to be codified instead of name calling and scorning Trump. 

Republicans will want a quid pro quo and they should use the opportunity to do such.  They should establish both proper border protection and a comprehensive visa program.The people of the United States through their elected officials need to decide who enters our country and who gets to remain here.  Favoring one group over another in a partisan, but not legal manner needs to end.Telling personal stories of family experiences from many lifetimes ago are truly heartfelt, but have little or no bearing on what is the best public policy for our country today with close to 325 million people and threats from dangerous people around the world.

What we need is a civil discussion of how to get control of our immigration system.  That is a must for our citizens and an issue of fairness for people on all continents who wish to live the American dream.  Stop the name calling, finger pointing, grandstanding and illegal remedies.  It is time to solve this properly through our elected representatives.  That is where our energies need to be focused.

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