Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, an immigration hardliner, appeared on CNN this past Wednesday, September 6th, and gave his opinion of DACA recipients. DACA, an immigration program instituted under President Barack Obama, protects children brought into the country illegally at a very young age from being deported to countries most have never known. Participants in the program, often referred to as Dreamers, have committed no crimes, pay American taxes, hold regular American jobs, but have been given no path towards citizenship. Steve King believes they are all law-breakers who deserve to "live in the shadows."
In the interview, King argues forcibly that DACA is a form of amnesty because it pardons its participants for the crime of living in America illegally. According to him, if justice had its full sway, they would all be thrown out but, because of DACA, they continue to achieve their nefarious goal: living the life they've always known, paying all the taxes, but without the benefits of citizenship.
As a reminder, most Dreamers have lived basically their whole lives in America. Most were brought into the country by their parents, too young to take any responsibility for the decision to come here. In King's words, however:
They continue to live the objective that they sought to achieve when they illegally entered America.
Imagine being told one day, after growing up among your friends, holding a job, and making plans for the future, that you had broken in the law by living in America and you were being sent back to a country you'd never been to.
Live in the shadows and if you get crossways with the law, then the law requires they be placed in criminal proceedings and go home. I think there's justice there, but we need to provide justice.
Once again, DACA is not available to any young people with a criminal record.
I think it's totally reasonable and appropriate that when you take a look at the DACA dilemma, this is a dilemma that in large part stems from the fact that it is a symptom of a larger problem, and the larger problem is that we do not have control of our borders. So it's only reasonable and fitting that we also address the root cause of the problem which is borders that are not sufficiently controlled while we address this very real and very human problem that's right in front of us.
There are currently around 800,000 young people in the U.S. under DACA - all of whom have grown up as contributing members of our society, but have no way of gaining citizenship. Their only crime is doing what their parents told them to do and, according to Steve King, not turning themselves in when they became old enough to understand they were in the country illegally. Since these Dreamers pay taxes and contribute to the workforce, deporting all of them (as King would like to do) would actually have an immediate negative effect on the economy. While everyone agrees that the law must be respected, and that, ideally, no one should be entering the country illegally, the desire to deport these young people who had no knowledge of their illegal actions and yet went on to help America become the great country it is today amounts to nothing short of racism and xenophobia.