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Letter to the Editor: Deportation Frenzy

It is long past time for us to speak out for our neighbors in Wisconsin who are immigrants. On the one hand, we face a draconian bill in the Senate that would severely limit legal immigration from anywhere; on the other an executive order that reverses the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) signed by President Obama in 2012.

DACA is the one success story in U.S. immigration policy since the last legislation was passed in 1986. Since 2001, there have been several attempts to update that policy for the 21st century, ending with a bill that passed the Senate in 2013 but has never received a vote in the House. In the face of gridlock, President Obama devised a plan that would at least protect some of the children of illegal immigrants.

It was a stopgap measure to reduce deportation anxiety among the most vulnerable immigrants (and their parents) until Congress managed to pass legislative reform. It has provided limited security for about 750,000 young people, but it is by no means a panacea.

In addition to three legal forms, it requires an application fee of $495. (There is an additional fee if the person wishes to travel outside the U.S. – for specified reasons that do not include recreation). The person must have arrived in the U.S. with no lawful status before his/her 16th birthday, lived here continuously for five years, enrolled in school or college or in the military after graduating from high school or receiving a GED, and not been convicted of a felony or a “serious” misdemeanor.

The prize for those who meet these qualifications is a two-year deferment from deportation with the possibility that after six years (two re-applications) they may receive a green card and later, perhaps, apply for citizenship! In other words, the brass ring is still very hard to grasp. It seems a stingy program for the richest nation on earth to offer!

Why would we rescind this program? These are surely the most vetted immigrants in the world, aside from Syrian refugees. The studies of their potential effect on the economy are very positive. The states have the right to decide if they can apply for aid from taxpayers and several have refused. Trump’s determination to erase all evidence of his predecessor’s presidency and his newly apparent desire for a white America seem to have set in motion a deportation frenzy on the part of ICE officials. These reasons will not withstand the test of time.

 

Estella Lauter

Fish Creek, Wis.

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