Let Dreamers Stay – If Their Parents Go

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

David Benkof Contributor
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President Trump’s decision, leaked yesterday, to end protection for illegal immigrants brought as children may end the American dreams of the so-called Dreamers, but it doesn’t have to. The U.S. government can subject those young men and women to deportation along with other illegals – while adding one caveat. Dreamers whose parents voluntarily leave the United States get to stay.

“Dreamers” is the deliberately manipulative term liberals invented for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. These “undocumented” migrants are different, Democrats say: they did not choose to live here. Many have known no other country, speak mostly or only English, and feel fully American.

President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) policy granted renewable, two-year work permits that allowed Dreamers to feel largely safe from deportation, provided they obey the law. President Trump’s plan has made many Republicans fear the public relations nightmare of bold action against blameless immigrants who seem quite American.

But are the Dreamers the innocent victims like Democrats claim?

Well, yes. But they’re not victims of the United States government or American society. They’re victims of their parents, who decided to raise them in a country where they had no right to live. Dreamer parents knew or should have known that someday the authorities might deport their children to an unfamiliar country that uses a language they do not speak where they don’t know a soul.

Taking a clear-headed look back, it’s stunningly callous and cruel that they would knowingly subject their own children to such risks.

Even when children aren’t involved, illegal immigration to the United States is an immoral, selfish act. It means migrants have decided the rules don’t apply to them. They perpetually leech off our free and abundant society which millions of people around the world want to have access to – but can’t because unlike illegals, they respected our immigration system. Whether “American immigrant” poseurs snuck over the border or overstayed a visa, the nation would not tolerate them if their numbers weren’t so huge. Mass deportations are completely impractical, so some of them are going to get to stay.

Since the Dreamers played no real role in settling here, compassion and fairness suggests that one a one-time basis they be among those spared deportation. But they should only be allowed to remain if the ones responsible for their plight – their parents – leave voluntarily. Dreamers who can demonstrate that their parents are deceased or living abroad should be allowed to continue learning and working here as permanent residents – but the moment a parent is discovered on U.S. soil, the whole family must be expelled, Dreamers and all.

The parents of the Dreamers often say they came to America because they wanted a “better life for their children.” Well, call their bluff. If the true motivation for their residential fraud was to protect their children, their children are adults and have a chance to be real Americans. Their illegal parents can now flutter away and sacrifice their own comfort so their Dreamers can thrive in safety as permanent residents. Any eventual grandchildren, of course, will be American citizens. It’s a beautiful offer to forward-looking illegals: let their children and descendants be fully American without fear any family members will face expulsion.

Sadly, though, some parents would reject the country’s offer, and their Dreamer children would eventually be expelled along with their parents. But that’s not America’s fault.

I believe the country would benefit from difficult conversations within immigrant families, including blunt cross-generational talks along the lines of:

Mom, Dad, I know you were trying to help, but let’s be honest – you screwed me. I grew up illegal, and we all knew that someday we might be sent back. Yet I have felt American my whole life, and I would be completely adrift in the country you brought me from. President Trump’s new policy is giving me a chance to live here for the rest of my life, without fear, and raise a family in which my children will be 100% American and I will be, too. I know it will be hard, of course, but please, go back to (name of home country) and I promise to visit when I can.

Some Dreamer parents would in fact leave the country to clinch their children’s security, denting the illegal immigrant problem. Other Dreamer parents, though, would feel no pressure from their children to emigrate – which makes the whole family co-conspirators spurning our laws. Those illegals who refuse to go, of course, are only confirming their flawed character, as they once again subject their own children to great risk for the sake of personal comfort.

Listening to the voices of the Dreamers shows what assets they could be as permanent residents, and how given their pursuit of the American dream their appellation isn’t so off after all. Most are quite Americanized, and unlike other illegals they have never shown contempt for our laws. If anybody gets to stay, it should be them. But the price of their integration should be dismantling the perverse scam that trapped them here in limbo. Their parents must say Adios.

David Benkof is a columnist for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or Facebook, or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.