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Time to act

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Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2019 11:03 pm

It’s graduation time in America. And if recent years are any indication, several of our nation’s top scholars will take to the podiums during commencement exercises and shock the assemblage by declaring that they aren’t U.S. citizens, or even legal residents. Such declarations, and their frequency, are clear proof that the lack of legal status, for which they are not at fault, doesn’t affect their achievement, their value as students, or their right to pursue their dreams of success in the only land they know.

Strangely, despite the obvious intelligence, abilities and potential of these top students, efforts continue to delegitimize them and have them summarily thrown out of this country.

Fortunately, reason continues to win out.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday struck down the Trump administration’s efforts to end protections for U.S. immigrants who were brought here as children and have lived here their entire lives.

In its majority ruling, a three-judge panel ruled that the current administration was “arbitrary and capricious” in its efforts to kill Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals without giving good reason, or saying what would happen to them.

This is only the latest such ruling. Circuit Court decisions apply only to their respective regions of jurisdiction, but several other federal courts have ruled the same way.

Each ruling only adds to the pile of reasons that Congress members should step up their efforts to pass legislation that would settle the issue once and for all.

Even if the House and Senate don’t have enough votes to override President Trump’s inevitable veto, the bill would issue a statement from the many representatives of our nation’s people that this matter isn’t going away.

Previous efforts to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act have fallen short; it was most recently offered in 2017, but Republican opposition in both houses kept the bill from advancing.

The current Democratic Party majority in the House should be able to move it along, at least in that chamber.

The issue affects an estimated 800,000 young people, and many of them are our neighbors in the Rio Grande Valley. They were raised as Americans and their places of birth are as foreign to them as they are to most U.S. citizens. They literally would have no place to go in any country to which they would be deported.

We must remember too that improper deportations wouldn’t affect just the Dreamers, but also the families that would be torn apart and the communities that would lose their talents and contributions if they were to be kicked out of this country.

Even current Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry, as Texas governor, recognized that residency trumps nationality when he advocated for allowing Texas Dreamers to pay in-state tuition at the state’s universities.

With so much at stake close to home, Valley and Texas lawmakers should lead the charge in pushing this legislation forward. It undoubtedly will be a major campaign issue once again, and our representatives should use the high public interest to fight for the hundreds of thousands of young people whose lives, deeds and achievements have proven that they deserve to be recognized as Americans, with all the rights and protections that come with that recognition.

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