Amnesty for ‘Dreamers’ won’t solve policy flaw creating DACA dilemma

Amnesty for ‘Dreamers’ won’t solve policy flaw creating DACA dilemma
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Members of Congress who are frantically peddling DACA amnesty ideas — some with a touch of enforcement added — don’t seem interested in what caused these young-adult illegal immigrants to be in the situation the members are trying to fix.

If they explored the cause, they would see that Congress itself has been the culprit.

The dilemma of the so-called Dreamers has its origins in Congress passing the big 1986 amnesty and several smaller amnesties in the 1990s without including a guarantee that U.S. employers would keep jobs out of the hands of illegal workers.

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A primary reason most of the hundreds of thousands of young-adult Dreamers have grown from childhood to adulthood while illegally in this country is that outlaw employers have been allowed to hire the Dreamers’ parents throughout their childhood.

Most illegal immigrants come — and stay — for the jobs. Congress has always made sure they can get them.

Congress continues to refuse to mandate the well-tested and widely-used E-Verify system. The outlaw employers in construction, manufacturing, hospitality and other services, of course, don't use it. Thus, parents worldwide, at this very moment, are enticed to illegally cross borders and overstay their visas while starting their children on the path to the long-term illegal-status life that Dreamers say is untenable.

The federal government has turned the other way as outlaw employers have depressed incomes for Americans and those here legally while they provided illegal-immigrant parents the wages that have fueled the Dreamers' dilemma.

Now, we hear voices from nearly every quarter hollering for Congress to make the same mistake again. They would allow employers to give jobs to the next set of illegal-alien parents so they can raise the next generation of Dreamers to demand yet another amnesty.

Current law — through its extended-family chain migration categories — offers even more temptation for parents of other nations to create the Dreamer dilemma for their own children if they believe DACA-type amnesties may become available.

As soon as amnestied illegal immigrants become U.S. citizens, current law allows them to petition for their parents to also obtain lifetime work permits and permanent residency. In such a case, the sins of the parents not only won’t be visited upon the children, they won’t fall upon the parents, either.

Chain migration categories for extended family multiply the problems of an amnesty. Because of these categories, it is not just the amnestied illegal immigrants who get added to compete permanently and directly with Americans in the legal labor market.

In considering a DACA amnesty, for example, Congress might think it is deciding about the economic harm to vulnerable American workers of adding several hundred thousand new competitors in the labor market (the children), but that amnesty threatens to eventually add their parents and extended family as competitors as well.

The downstream effects of the chain migration categories are often overlooked by amnesty advocates and are a significant reason why Dreamer amnesties have never gotten through Congress.

Every illegal border crosser and visa overstayer who was given a path to citizenship in the last 30 years has had the opportunity under current law to become a citizen and sponsor parents, brothers, sisters and adult children.

The speed at which these "chain" immigrants are added into the labor force is metered by the five-year wait to become a citizen and by some annual caps, although there is no limit on parents. But in the lifetime of a young Dreamer given an amnesty today, there would likely be time not only to obtain lifetime work permits for the original chain of extended family but for that Dreamer's grandparents (as parents of the Dreamer's parents), aunts and uncles (as siblings of the Dreamer's parents), and cousins (the children of the Dreamer's aunts and uncles).

The chains don't stop there. Every one of those adults could immediately bring their minor children and their spouse. Every spouse can start the same chains in his or her families.

All of them could receive lifetime work permits to compete for jobs with working-age Americans who don’t have a job, nearly one-in-four Americans, according to government data.

That’s the reality of DACA amnesty that Congress needs to face.

Roy Beck is president of NumbersUSA, a non-partisan grassroots immigration-reduction organization.