Stop the insanity: Californians in Congress should back Dreamers compromise

A supporter of President Donald Trump challenges police officers and a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals supporter outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Los Angeles office earlier this month.
A supporter of President Donald Trump challenges police officers and a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals supporter outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Los Angeles office earlier this month. AP

President Donald Trump toys with the lives of 700,000 Dreamers, while partisans threaten a government shutdown and federal agents hint at arrests for local officials who dare defy them. And yet, a few members of Congress are seeking common ground.

Reps. Will Hurd, R-Texas, Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Pete Aguilar, D-Fontana, on Tuesday announced an effort to create a path to citizenship for 1 million-plus people who have grown up in the U.S. and are as American as any of one of us.

The bill, embraced by 25 Republicans and 25 Democrats, would apply to the “Dreamers” seeking protection under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and to many other young people who remain in the shadows.

The entire California congressional delegation should join Denham and Aguilar in that effort. All 53 members of Congress from California standing as one in support of the compromise would send a powerful message to Trump and the rest of the country that this brinkmanship must end.

Of course, that also would require House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, to display leadership by helping to end the unnecessary and dehumanizing standoff, and to deliver for his state, which is home to 200,000-plus individuals spared deportation under the DACA program.

The issue would be easily solved, but for the crazy hyper-partisan times in which we live. Congressional hardliners from both parties are threatening a federal government shutdown, a step that would solve nothing and needlessly harm rank-and-file workers and the public.

Further illustrating the insanity, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, under questioning Tuesday by Sen. Kamala Harris, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that her department has asked federal prosecutors to look into whether they can criminally charge officials who refuse to cooperate with feds in their efforts to deport illegal immigrants. That feds would contemplate arresting local officials should deeply offend anyone who has read the 10th Amendment granting rights to states.

A state law that took effect on Jan. 1 limits California cops from helping immigration officials in certain circumstances, though it hardly prohibits all cooperation. Several cities, Sacramento among them, have ordinances limiting law enforcement from helping immigration agents, for good reason. If otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants fear deportation, they will not come forward to help police solve crimes.

Also on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration would appeal a decision issued last week by U.S. District Judge William Alsup of San Francisco that blocked Trump’s effort to unravel the DACA program.

Rather than following the normal process by turning to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Trump is seeking review from the U.S. Supreme Court, where he has had better luck, as detailed by The Sacramento Bee’s Anita Chabria and McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Stuart Leavenworth.

We hope calmer heads prevail. By that, we mean Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Sacramento native who served on the 9th Circuit and should respect its place in our federalist system. The justices should reject Trump’s end-run, and leave the matter to the 9th Circuit.

Hurd, who represents a swing district in Texas along the Mexican border, and Aguilar and Denham who also represent swing districts, deserve praise for seeking common ground.

Their bill has essential components: Individuals would qualify for permanent status if they were 18 or younger before Dec. 31, 2013, pass background checks and have been employed, in school or served in the military. The bill would increase border security by employing technology, and authorize a study to justify construction of a wall in specific locations.

It is, in short, a compromise. If they pull it off, politicians could rightly revel in the praise. Far more importantly, roughly a million people whose parents brought them here and have become American in every way other than in status could get on with their lives.