by Linda Chavez
A government shutdown was temporarily averted last week with the passage of a two-week spending bill, but one group that may be left out in the cold when Congress takes up the spending bill again Dec. 22 is DACA recipients. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gave young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children — more than half of them before they turned 7 — temporary permission to stay and work, provided they met certain criteria, including enrolling in higher education or the military, passing a background check and paying any back taxes owed.
But unless the White House and the GOP leadership embrace a solution for the more than 700,000 current DACA recipients to remain in the U.S. legally, we could soon see these young people lose their jobs and face an imminent threat of deportation. Some have already lost their status, and many more will do so unless Congress acts now.
The fate of so-called dreamers has been a political football for more than a decade, with many Republicans and virtually all Democrats once supporting legislation to give them a chance to earn the right to be here legally. But bills that passed one house of Congress died in the other, and the prospects for enacting a permanent solution for people who came here illegally as children seems elusive once again. Republicans who continue to block legislation that would fix the problem claim they are obliged to do so to honor their constituents’ wishes and to curb illegal immigration. But the truth is that they are simply beholden to radical special interest groups that have made millions of dollars stoking anti-immigrant fears among a minority of Americans.
Here are the facts: The Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA are leaders in the anti-immigration movement and have grown in power and influence because GOP leaders treat them as natural allies. Republicans have invited these groups to testify as experts on immigration before congressional committees, incorporate their studies and findings as if they were gospel, and even allow the groups’ staffs to help write legislation. It is an odd alliance, especially for pro-life Republicans, given the history of these groups, their leadership, their funding and, most importantly, their ultimate aim, which is to reduce population size in the U.S.
All three groups were founded by John Tanton, who is a former president of Planned Parenthood of West and Northern Michigan and former national president of Zero Population Growth. Their interlocking governing and advisory boards have included members who also serve as leaders in such groups as Negative Population Growth, Californians for Population Stabilization, and Population Connection, as well as in environmentalist groups. The current chairman of the board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform also sits on the board of the International Services Assistance Fund, which promotes permanent sterilization. FAIR has also received funding from the pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund, as well as other foundations whose primary aim is to reduce population size.
These organizations want DACA protection to end and oppose any legislative solution that would allow DACA recipients to earn citizenship or be allowed to sponsor family members for permanent resident status. Why? Because doing so would allow the United States’ population to continue to grow — which they view as a threat. Tanton once admitted, “One of my prime concerns is about the decline of folks who look like you and me.” But without immigrants, our economy would shrink and our social services net, including Social Security and Medicare, would unravel. We need the kind of people DACA represents — educated and employed taxpayers who contribute to our country’s greatness.
Why are Republicans listening to the likes of FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA instead of to voters, an overwhelming number of whom support a path forward for the “Dreamers”? That’s a question we should be asking U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell before ICE starts showing up at Dreamers’ doors. There are ample votes to get a permanent fix for Dreamers, but it will take a willingness to work across the aisle and to turn a deaf ear to the radical population control fanatics, who are no friends to conservative values of faith, family and freedom.