When it comes to immigration, there’s one thing nearly all of us can agree on: The system is broken and in need of comprehensive reform.
Regardless of how it came about, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — better known as DACA — it is not the real issue.
With the administration seemingly ready to end DACA, we urge Congress to act to continue this vital program through legislation.
To do otherwise would have the effect of punishing those who were encouraged out of the shadows with the promise of a way forward.
While reasonable people can disagree on the merits of DACA, the reality is it’s here. It was a promise made five years ago, and many took it to heart. As a nation, our word must stand for something.
As mayors, we are closest to the people all our governments serve. At the local level, we see firsthand how federal actions have a direct impact on people’s lives.
With DACA, we can never forget we are dealing with people, and in this case children and young adults.
We are talking about nearly 800,000 students, recent graduates, some military veterans and other young people brought here as children. They had no say in how they got here and whether they were violating U.S. law.
We have thousands of so-called Dreamers in our cities who are working their way through school or finding their first jobs.
Some of these Dreamers were so young when they came here that our cities are the only homes they know. They have no memory of their native country and often speak only English.
They have grown up as Americans. Some only later discovered that a lack of documentation may threaten their existence here.
Deporting young people who have been allowed to be a part of our communities would be wrong. But we as mayors do not have the power to pass legislation that would extend or refine DACA.
Recently, we joined more than 60 other mayors across 29 states and the District of Columbia in the DACA National Day of Action, a coast-to-coast effort by the U.S. Conference of Mayors to show our cities’ support for protecting Dreamers.
Yet no one should be confused. DACA or any subsequent legislation can never be cover for those who have come here and then committed serious crimes. They should, and will, be held accountable.
But, as we’ve seen in our cities, these are the exceptions, not the rule, when it comes to Dreamers.
As mayors, we must embrace the guiding principles of our founders that were later carried forward by Abraham Lincoln and…