Mercy for the 'Dreamers'|
February 1, 2017
We should not allow Dreamers to forget that this is a nation of law and they
On June 15, 2012, President Obama signed an executive order to protect those who
arrived illegally to the United States as minors.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals provides a two-year window to shield
these people from deportation and allow them to work. They must have been under
16 when they arrived, be in school or have completed school, and have no
The order produced consternation on two fronts. First, the nature of the action.
Many feel that immigration policy, legal and illegal, should be handled
comprehensively and that the first order of business must be fixing border
security. Second, the form of the action — a presidential executive order. Many
see this order as changing immigration law, which would therefore be
unconstitutional because legislation is required.
Now we have a new president who was elected in no small part to deal with
immigration. And he is moving forward deliberatively to implement his campaign
However, President Trump has so far not indicated what he intends to do
regarding these so-called "dreamers" — the name derived from the DREAM Act, the
legislation originally proposed to process these undocumented immigrants.
According to reports, the president is hearing different sides on this, both
inside the White House and inside the Republican Party. Some say "no exceptions"
and want to repeal this executive order. Others want to continue the protections
for these "dreamers" — after all, they were brought here as minors and have
grown up here — but want to handle the issue with legislation.
Running a country is art, not science. If it were science, we could write
software and send everybody in Washington home. Unfortunately, we need leaders
who understand what our country is about to make tough calls when things are not
black and white.
The immigration issue is about law and law is about defining the lines you don't
cross. Whether it is the physical line that defines the borders of our nation or
the legal lines that protect the life, liberty and property of citizens.
Those who came here illegally of their own volition have violated both and this
cannot be tolerated. President Trump said, "A nation without borders is not a
nation." I would add to this that a nation without law is not a nation. You need
Those whose arrived as minors, because their parents violated the law, do, I
believe, deserve special consideration.
Certainly, as Christians, we understand that justice has two components —
judgment and mercy. Judgment is the implementation of the law in its severity.
Mercy is understanding and appreciating when there should be exceptions.
Too often we have those who just want severity. And too often we have those who
just want mercy. Yet again, you need both.
Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin have introduced legislation that would
essentially replicate DACA. It would give all the same protections and have the
same requirements, but extends the window to three years rather than two.
I think it is a good idea, but not enough. We should extend mercy to those who
were brought here as minors illegally. But we should not allow them to forget
that this is a nation of law and they received mercy.
We should assure they have learned or are learning English, that they know or
are learning American history, and that they know or are learning our
Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
Perhaps we should also include a requirement for some kind of national service,
possibly in the U.S. military.
Regarding our laws, we should aspire toward the ideal to which Moses instructed
the Israelites in the desert — "You shall safeguard and perform" these laws such
that the other nations of the world will say, "Surely a wise and discerning
people is this great nation."