By Chris Jennewein
When President Trump on Tuesday ended a program that protected undocumented immigrants brought to America as children, he clearly wasn’t reading the Bible for inspiration.
In Deuteronomy the Bible clearly states — in harsh Old Testament terms — that children should not be responsible for the crimes of their parents.
“The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin,” according to the King James translation of Deuteronomy 24:16.
English common law and American jurisprudence agree. We don’t arrest and try children for their parents’ crimes.
But for Trump’s base (or what Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter Peggy Noonan calls his diminishing core) entering the United States illegally in search of a better life is a crime so heinous that both parents and children should be prosecuted — and quickly.
DACA — President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — was very simple in concept. Undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before the age of 16 would be given a two-year permit to work or attend school without fear of deportation. It wasn’t the right wing’s hated “amnesty,” but a practical solution to helping up to 2 million people.
Many of the 800,000 who signed up for DACA permits know only life in the United States, speak only English and have never been to their country of birth. Deporting these “Dreamers” would be an act of cruelty no matter the legality.
It’s surprising that a President who is the son of an immigrant mother and who married two immigrant women would not see the cruelty. Suppose his three oldest children were suddenly deported to their mother’s country of origin. Reportedly they do all speak some Czech, but life would probably be difficult in Eastern Europe, even for Trumps.
Maybe that’s why Trump didn’t announce the decision himself, instead turning that matter over to Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions. Congress now has six months to save the Dreamers, but whether enough Republicans will join the Democratic minority in passing the required legislation is an open question.
Right wing conservatives are cheering the possible deportation of people brought to American as children. Fox News’ headline is: “DACA DONE: Sessions announces end to Obama amnesty order.”
Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who is known for his harsh anti-immigration views, is one of those cheering. Asked by Fox News if there was a compassionate way to end DACA, he replied that the Trump administration should allow recipients to stay until their permits expire.
“As their papers run out, they have to go home,” he said.
That would be to homes they never knew. As Moses said the book of Exodous, they would become strangers in a strange land.
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.
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