DACA’s Demise Betrays the Best of America

There is no more sacred obligation than the protection of our children — all our children, all the children living in the United States, whatever their ethnic identity and origin. They are the young Americans who will be the next America. It is our fundamental responsibility to protect them and to ensure that they flourish.

Today many children in America are threatened not only by natural disasters, but disasters of our own making as well. A particularly heinous one is taking place in Washington: the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is being abolished. DACA allowed young undocumented immigrants who were brought here as children — — about 800,000 of them, who grew up in America, submitted to background checks, and are almost all in school or in the workforce — to continue to study and to work in our country without fear of deportation. Is there anything more heartless and less intelligent that our government could do? It is heartless, because the elimination of this protection will put an end to the upward trajectory, the beautifully American trajectory, of these young people, and destroy their dreams, and force them to live in insecurity and dread. It is unintelligent, because these youngsters are on the way to becoming exemplary citizens and productive members of our economy: it is estimated that the abolition of DACA will cost our country $460.3 billion in GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.

Our country replenishes itself not only with its children but also with its immigrants. American history shows incontrovertibly that the United States has always relied upon immigration to refresh its prosperity and its politics — upon the energies and spirits and skills of the resilient and idealistic people who flock to these shores. Is it really any longer controversial to say that immigration has been one of our supreme blessings? The immigrants in our midst seek opportunity and welcome responsibility. We should not be wary of them. We should welcome them.

And their children are among our greatest assets. To hurt these children is to hurt ourselves, our society as a whole. The abolition of DACA represents a betrayal of both our values and our interests. We should be ashamed of what the administration has done. It is now up to Congress to correct this indecent mistake by passing the bipartisan DREAM Act. Is our common humanity so frayed in this country that we cannot agree even about the children?