Evan Vucci / Associated Press

Originally published by LA Times

For a few interesting hours, it looked as though the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress had found a path forward for resolving the conundrum of the so-called Dreamers, immigrants who have lived in the U.S. without legal permission since they were children.

After dinner at the White House on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced they had the outline of a deal with President Trump in which the protections that had been promised under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – and then rescinded by Trump – would be reestablished and enshrined into law. As part of the deal, the Democrats would support enhanced border security measures, and the showdown over Trump’s border wall would be pushed off to some future date.

But the bipartisan moment didn’t last long. The White House quickly responded that there had been a discussion, but that no deal had been reached; leading Republicanscondemned the idea. Then on Thursday morning Trump seemed to back still farther away when he told reporters that if there’s not a wall, we’re doing nothing. He also said that he was not contemplating a path to citizenship for the Dreamers, just temporary protection from deportation. By Thursday afternoon, Trump was talking about maybe a DACA deal first if the Democrats promised not to block the wall later.

It would be outrageous, frankly, if they can’t reach an agreement. Trump’s decision earlier this month to withdraw the DACA protections promised to some 800,000 people – most of whom came to this country as a result of decisions made by their parents – was cruel and unnecessary. But if the protections could be restored to them by Congress as a matter of law (rather than merely presidential executive action), the Dreamers would be in even better shape than they were under Obama. The flurry of deal-no deal reports raises some tentative hope that there still might be a resolution.

The original Dream Act that was introduced in Congress year after year would have provided a path to legal status and ultimately to citizenship. But it never passed. That led Obama to create the DACA program in 2012 to provide the Dreamers with some stability and permission to work until Congress could fix the problem.

Trump, though, rode anti-immigrant fervor to the White House; among other things, he promised to deport DACA participants. He softened his stance for a while, telling the Dreamers he was gonna deal with DACA with heart. But then he announced this month that the program would be phased out in March 2017 unless Congress acted to give the Dreamers legal status. So the Dreamers are once again – or still – twisting in the wind.

We hope the president and leaders of both parties in Congress can find a way to make this work. Fairness demands it, as do most of the American people. The Dreamers deserve not just protection from deportation, but a path to true citizenship. These are people, after all, who often have spent little time in the country where they were born, speak only English and have been brought up as Americans. To qualify for DACA protections, they had to be in school or have graduated or to have been in the military.

Trump should set aside his insistence on his silly wall – which even many of his fellow Republicans dismiss as unnecessary and excessively costly – and put the well-being of the Dreamers ahead of his ill-advised campaign promises.

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