Why DACA immigrants should stay

Les Pinter


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) children were brought to the United States when they were children - many of them under the age of 6. Many have no memories of the country of their birth. Some only speak English. This is their home.

Donald Trump and many Republicans want to throw them out of the country because "they broke the law when they came here."

No, they didn't. Their parents broke the law. And we don't punish children for the crimes of their parents.

If a person with a 60 IQ commits a crime, it's a well-established principle of American law that they can't be found guilty of the crime they're charged with because, not having the ability to understand that they were committing a crime, they can't have had criminal intent. No intent, no understanding of the crime, no crime.

The exact same reasoning applies to DACA immigrants: As children, they didn't know that they were breaking the law. Not many 6-year-olds do. At what age are minors old enough to stand trial for crimes? Most jurisdictions say 12; for some purposes, it's 16. But it's never 6.

It's hard to conclude that the Republican opposition to immigrants isn't simply racism. Tribalism is universal, but it's nothing to be proud of. The message at the base of the Status of Liberty doesn't say "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...if they're from Norway."

The typical DACA immigrant today is 22 years old, and has been in the United States for 10 years. They have to be at least 15 years old to apply, and must have arrived before their 16th birthday. Eight hundred thousand are in the queue. Another half a million or so are not yet old enough to apply. Around a million who were to old to qualify are also in limbo. And there are 3.6 million "dreamers", young immigrants who may not qualify for DACA, but who are similar in every other respect.

They are often better educated than people of the same age who were born here. because "tiger moms" are relentless about homework and grades. And, like second-generation immigrants, they are less likely to have committed a crime. And they are usually bilingual, which in my book makes them smarter than their American counterparts, who after six years of Spanish still think that "Una m�s" means "one more" in Spanish (it doesn't; they say "otra.")

ALL DACA immigrants speak English. They should; for most, their parents' language is their second language. Some don't speak their parents' native language at all. My immigrant father refused to teach me Hungarian because "this is America." Sad...

DACA kids old enough to to have a job probably have one. They often work in jobs that their parents worked, because "work is work, and we're lucky to get it." That's often not how Americans feel. Try to hire gringos to pick fruit. My neighbors tell me that the white boys last about two hours in the orange groves before they quit.

In short, these are EXACTLY the sort of immigrants that made America great already. If we must, can't we take some of the 20% of 18-year-old Americans who can't freaking read and throw them out to make way for these treasures? Maybe those "good people" in the Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville that the President so admired...

Republicans need to consider the issues, both legal, economic and moral, that the DACA immigrants raise. What kind of people do we want to be? Much, if not most, of our "greatness" comes from immigrants. Many countries spend a fortune trying to attract them. These guys are already here.. PLEASE don't throw this opportunity away; without them, we will have far less of a chance of being great again.

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