Editorial: Trump’s heartless DACA game

Monday, September 11, 2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive order issued by his predecessor, is cruel, economically stupid, immoral, politically unwise and contrary to the values of a nation of immigrants.

It may also, at long last, unite congressional Democrats and centrist Republicans in a way that allows them to compromise when it’s in the best interests of the nation. Among the possibilities is a fair and comprehensive reform of a flawed and unfair immigration system. Extending DACA would be a start.

President Barack Obama’s order, issued after repeated failures by Congress to address immigration, allowed 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to attend school, get jobs, hold a driver’s license and thus pay income, Social Security and Medicare taxes. Trump’s order, issued by an attorney general who got many of his facts wrong when praising it, gives Congress six months to come to agreement on what to do with hundreds of thousands of hardworking people here illegally through no fault of their own.

If Congress fails, it’s unclear what will happen. Trump, who demonized the Dreamers program routinely while campaigning, now says he will “revisit the issue” if necessary. That approach leaves hundreds of thousands of people and their families hanging by their psychological fingernails indefinitely.

Last week, Monitor reporter Ethan DeWitt described the heartbreaking situation that stepped-up immigration enforcement is having on an Indonesian couple whose children, born during their 15-year stay in the U.S., are American citizens. Both parents are employed, tax-paying residents who contribute to their community and boost the state’s economy. Immigration and Customs ordered the father to show proof that he had purchased a plane ticket to Indonesia with departure by Oct. 6, just a month from now. His wife’s fate is undecided.

New Hampshire has nearly 1,000 DACA enrollees. Children and residents now in their 20s and 30s will be forced to go to a nation that is for many a dim memory and whose language they don’t speak.

Citizens and businesses will feel the pain if the young immigrants, the oldest are in their 30s and many have children who are citizens, are deported. The nation’s population is aging. Young workers are needed to keep the Social Security and Medicare systems solvent. DACA immigrants can collect Social Security, but since their average age is 26, not for another 40 years. They cannot qualify for food stamps, Medicare, subsidies under Obamacare or cash welfare assistance. They are a plus, not a drain, for the economy. The vast majority are employed and paying in, and some are fighting for their illegally adopted nation. By one estimate, deporting the Dreamers would cost the Treasury nearly $20 billion over the next decade.

Business does not support Trump’s ending the program. More than 400, including the heads of Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have contacted the White House to emphasize their opposition. A majority of the public opposes ending the program as well.

We applaud New Hampshire’s congressional delegation for their opposition to Trump’s decision and thank Gov. Chris Sununu for recognizing the value of the Dreamers and how wrong it would be to deport them.

We do wonder how many employees of Trump’s hundreds of private companies are people at risk of being deported because of his heartless action. Some boss. Some president.