Op-ed: Dreamers need a legal path to citizenship

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) supporters, including Xochitl Cornejo, center, march to the Capitol during the “We Are All DREAMers” rally in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017.

If you’re interested in immigration reform, then the past couple of weeks have probably left you with a bit of whiplash. This month, President Donald Trump and Democratic leadership reportedly reached a deal that includes eventual citizenship for those currently protected by Obama’s now-rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order. Then, Trump tweeted that there was no such deal. Paradoxically, he also expressed sentiments in favor of DACA in other tweets.

Because of the economic and social benefits those protected by DACA provide for the U.S., it’s likely to be a good deal if Republicans and Democrats can come together. The approximately 800,000 recipients of DACA protections, usually called “Dreamers,” are educated, hardworking and entrepreneurial individuals. Though DACA’s opponents are right to voice legitimate worries about the executive power DACA was born from, they tend to exaggerate the costs of the program and ignore its benefits.

Dreamers don’t get an easy path to citizenship. There are demanding requirements to qualify. For example, not only are felons ineligible for DACA, but multiple misdemeanors can also disqualify an applicant. Applicants must be either finished with their education and working or currently pursuing an education or be honorably discharged veterans. Many immigrants hire lawyers to help them apply because the process is so difficult.

All of this screening has one advantage: Only talented and industrious people qualify for DACA. This should make DACA recipients an easy place for compromise between different political camps since these people, whether they entered the country lawfully or not, are a huge economic boost.

Too many people think immigrants take jobs from Americans or are worried about increased crime. Setting aside the obvious question of how someone who grew up in America is not also an American in every meaningful way, it’s simply not true that DACA recipients are displacing…

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