U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announcement last week that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would be rescinded in six months brought a wave of dismay from Hoosiers.
Nearly 10,000 undocumented immigrants in Indiana who were brought to the United States as children are now in danger of being deported unless Congress acts quickly.
In an interview last week, Steve Corona, executive director of Latinos Count, told The Journal Gazette's Brian Francisco he is optimistic that Congress will save the Dreamers.
It would be easier to share Corona's positive view if Congress had not failed repeatedly over the past few years to deal with the immigration issue in general and the Dreamers' plight in particular. And it has been discouraging that so much misinformation has been presented in discussions about the young people protected by the program.
Created by President Barack Obama in 2012, DACA extended protection to immigrant children who entered the country before their 16th birthday and have lived here continuously since 2007.
As the majority of Americans seem to recognize, the Dreamers are not taking jobs from Americans, straining the welfare system or creating crime waves. More familiar with America than with their home countries, they are young people who have been going to school and working to become productive American citizens – innocent victims caught in America's prolonged inability to reform immigration policy.
It was encouraging that so many state leaders spoke out quickly and forcefully after Sessions' announcement.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend, had this to say: “My heart goes out to our DACA youth and their families who have been left unprotected from deportation and fear for their futures in the United States, their home. ... They are part of our community, our churches, our schools, our workplaces and our military. May we all stand in solidarity with them during this difficult time!”
Indiana University President Michael McRobbie said his institution is “deeply disappointed” in the administration's decision to end the program.
“As these bright, talented and high-achieving students and alumni work and study here,” McRobbie said, “they contribute greatly toward strengthening the civic, cultural, social and economic fabric of our state.”
Notre Dame President John Jenkins defended the Dreamers even more passionately.
Ending the program, he said, “would be foolish, cruel and un-American. Foolish because it drives away talented people the country needs; cruel because it abandons people who have done nothing wrong and have known life only in the United States; and un-American because we have always welcomed immigrants to our land of opportunity.”
In Columbus, Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said the administration's decision “is discriminatory, harmful and sets our country back.”
Indiana's congressional delegation called for action with varying degrees of passion.
Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly said ending DACA “isn't the path we should take.” Republican U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks was equally clear, calling on her colleagues “to provide these kids who are woven into our communities the reassurance that they will be able to continue living their lives as they always have.”
Statements by U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, Senate candidates U.S. Reps. Todd Rokita, R-4th, and Luke Messer, R-6th, and Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young failed to directly mention the Dreamers' plight, but all called on Congress to address immigration.
Banks said he hoped the situation would be resolved, “as President Trump has said, 'with heart.' ”
A lot of good-hearted Hoosiers are also hoping that will be the case.