Rational Immigration Policy

There are two immigration policies undergoing intense scrutiny. The Temporary Protected Status Program (TPS), which is an established policy within the United States immigrCustoms and Immigration Service and DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals.)

Temporary Protected Status Program

The program falls under the aegis of the Secretary of Homeland Security who, when circumstances warrant, grants temporary protections from deportations for individuals from areas undergoing specific problems.

(From the United States Customs and Immigration Service Website)

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

During a designated period, individuals who are TPS beneficiaries or who are found preliminarily eligible for TPS upon initial review of their cases (prima facie eligible):

  • Are not removable from the United States
  • Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
  • May be granted travel authorization

Once granted TPS, an individual also cannot be detained by DHS on the basis of his or her immigration status in the United States.

TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or gives any other immigration status. However, registration for TPS does not prevent you from:

  • Applying for nonimmigrant status
  • Filing for adjustment of status based on an immigrant petition
  • Applying for any other immigration benefit or protection for which you may be eligible

Here’s the list of countries and the date of designation granting temporary protected status.

  • El Salvador    2001
  • Haiti                2010
  • Honduras       1999
  • Nepal               2015
  • Nicaragua       1999
  • Somalia           1991
  • South Sudan   2011
  • Sudan               1997
  • Syria                 2016
  • Yemen              2015

Aside from the extended period such designation has applied to some countries, there is something else that troubles me.

Nothing prevents those allowed into the country from applying for citizenship through normal channels. It would seem that individuals here from El Salvador, for example, since 2001 have had ample opportunity to seek citizenship.

Since the program is “temporary” protection, why is there any surprise or outrage if Homeland Security exercises their lawful discretion in terminating the program?

One can make an argument about conditions in Sudan or Somalia, perhaps, as ongoing. However, the situation in El Salvador that triggered the designation as long since passed.

I am not without sympathy for the plight of many in the world. Moreover, I think the US bears a great deal of responsibility to use our wealth and power to promote human rights in the world, but those who live in these countries bear the obligation to seek to change conditions in their own countries, not merely enjoy the hospitality of the American people.

I think the TPS program is a shining example of the best of America and I think the temporary nature of it need be recognized.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Senate Bill S 1291  was introduced in 2001 and known as the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). It has been reintroduced on several subsequent occasions but never enacted.

President Barrack Obama signed an Executive Order Jun 15, 2012, creating the DACA program as an interim.

The order was timed to coincide with the anniversary of Plyler v. Doe, a Supreme Court decision barring public schools from charging illegal immigrant children tuition. The policy was officially established by a memorandum from the Secretary of Homeland Security titled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children.” This policy allowed certain immigrants to escape deportation and obtain work permits for a period of two years- renewable upon good behavior. To apply, immigrants had to be younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, must have come to the U.S. when they were younger than 16, and must have lived in the U.S. since 2007. In August 2012, the Pew Research Center estimated that up to 1.7 million people were eligible.

So far, 800,000 individuals have applied for the protections. Applications are no longer accepted.

The DACA Program, a temporary humanitarian effort, is another example of the best of America.  We do not punish someone for the act of another.  Human beings brought here as children should not be callously deported from what may be the only country they have known.

The image of Immigration Agents separating families for deportation for no other reason but undocumented status is horrifying, raising the image of lines of Jewish women and children, separated from their husbands and fathers, in the depravity of Nazi Germany.

However, with that said, if someone brought here as a child, educated by public schools, enjoyed the opportunity (not the guarantee, opportunity) of the Amercian Dream yet has made no effort at obtaining legal status or citizenship, it gives me pause.

America has a big heart. We have demonstrated a willingness to sacrifice our blood to defend others in places far from America; Belleau Woods, Normandy, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Inchon,  Chosen Reservoir, Hue, Afghanistan, and when many of those battles were over, we extended the hand of friendship to our former enemies.

The charity of America is enormous, but not unlimited. We should offer hope and help, not unending handouts.

I think ending DACA is a mistake if we sacrifice innocent people in pursuit of such a policy. Stopping the Temporary Protected Status designation is a grave error if the conditions that triggered it still exists. I believe it is necessary if they no longer exist.

However, I also think asking people to help themselves, to make an effort at repaying our support by either reclaiming their own country or respecting the law and seeking citizenship here is more than reasonable.

 

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