Yesterday, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Dream Act of 2017, an important piece of legislation that faces an important year, as DACA becomes increasingly threatened and Dreamers face the possibility of deportation.
The Dream Act should be a no-brainer: it takes immigrant youth who are American in all but name and makes it possible for them to fully contribute to the country they call home. Polls consistently find that around two-thirds of Americans support the basic tenets of the Dream Act, while a minority (19%) prefer to have Dreamers deported.
Unfortunately, there’s at least two people who don’t support the Dream Act.
One, apparently, is Donald Trump, who indicated through aides this week that he wouldn’t sign the Dream Act even though he’s previously spoken about treating Dreamers with “heart.” The White House only gave the usual Republican bromide as a reason — “enforcement first” — which we assume means that Trump still taking cues from anti-immigrant zealots like Jeff Sessions, Steve Bannon, and Steven Miller. So much for Dreamers being a decision that Trump makes.
Then there’s DHS Secretary John Kelly, who has repeatedly shirked his duty on immigration, deportation, and discretion by punting the responsibility onto Congress. According to Kelly, his immigration agents are forced to keep deporting mothers and fathers who haven’t done anything wrong until Congress changes the law. (That’s not true — Kelly has discretion; he’s just not using it.) Kelly has called himself a personal supporter of DACA and Dreamers — yet when the Trump Administration spoke against the Dream Act this week, Kelly said he supported that decision.
“The president has indicated he will not sign [the bill] and the Secretary supports the president’s position,” DHS spokesman David Lapan said in an email.
What gives? How can Kelly personally support DACA but be against the Dream Act? How can he repeatedly call on Congress to make changes to immigration law, then shoot down one of the most widely-supported and sympathetic pieces of immigration legislation? Has Kelly even talked to Trump about this issue — or does the former general now just take orders without question from the likes of Sessions?
It’s clear that Kelly is no leader within the Administration, and never has been. On immigration, Kelly seems perfectly content to sit back and toe the President’s and the Attorney General’s line, no matter how nonsensical, heartless, and destructive it may be.