There is an old proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.” When it comes to The DREAM Act of 2017, Congress has waited long enough. Versions of this legislation have been proposed repeatedly with bipartisan support since 2001. Always, there have been political reasons to shelve it for another year.
The Obama administration’s rolling out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been portrayed as an affront to Congress' law-making powers, but if those complaints about executive overreach and administrative lawmaking were sincere, Congress should now be thrilled! The DREAM Act of 2017 is the perfect chance for them to do the right thing in the right way.
Truth be told, it seems more likely that many members of Congress were relieved that DACA provided a common-sense, compassionate solution that would appease their consciences and cost them practically no political points. Congress has now been gifted with a similar, but permanent legislative solution.
A recent poll by Morning Consult and Politico reveals that 78 percent of American voters support giving Dreamers the chance to stay in America permanently, including 73 percent of those who voted for President TrumpDonald TrumpGOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors Iran thinks it has the upper hand in Vienna — here's why it doesn't MORE.
As far as the remaining voters are concerned, how upset can they be when Trump has repeatedly tweeted at Congress to act? “Congress, get ready to do your job! — DACA.” “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!” “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!.....” “...They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own - brought in by parents at young age. Plus BIG border security,”
It is even rumored that Trump told Democratic leadership on Wednesday night that he would not oppose the DREAM Act, nor would he insist that funding for the border wall be tied to it.
So what is Congress waiting for? This is one of those rare opportunities to enact a good law in a simple, straightforward way. Yes, there are other important things happening right now that also require quick, collaborative action, like funding disaster relief for those affected by hurricanes and keeping the federal government from shutting down after Sept. 30.
When the stakes are high and the right thing is clear, Congress must act quickly. The DREAM Act of 2017 requires similar urgency, but it seems there is too much temptation to use the politically disenfranchised as bargaining chips here. There is no excuse for that. It is almost universally agreed upon that comprehensive immigration reform is needed, but the way to accomplish this and any other piece of important legislation is not to see which side can play their cards more slyly. Our country needs solutions based on verifiable facts and legitimate research, sincere compromise, and a commitment to finding solutions that actually protect and serve our national interests.
Any attempts to score political points or secure individual wins by stirring up division and fear are immoral. None of us is naive to the fact that this is the way Washington works. But that should change. The DREAM Act of 2017 should be our ethical litmus test.
This is the perfect opportunity to build some momentum with a quick, unanimous vote that restores the public’s trust in our institutions and in our representatives. No more back-room deals. No more quiet quid pro quo. Just do the right thing, the right way, at the right time — now.
In the wise words of another Proverb, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, 'Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you'— when you already have it with you.” (Proverbs 3:27-28)
Diana Bate Hardy is the Immigration Committee lead for Mormon Women for Ethical Government. She is a graduate of BYU Law School and practiced law for a number of years before taking a break to focus on raising her family in Portland, Oregon. Mormon Women for Ethical Government (MWEG) is a nonpartisan grassroots organization of over 5,000 women dedicated to the ideals of decency, honor, accountability, transparency and justice in governing.