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Hey Dreamers, why so worried?

Kenneth D. Gough • Feb 9, 2018 at 8:15 AM

A compassionate and kind-hearted nation will find a way.

Dreamers, why are you so worried? Do you really think that a nation as kind-hearted and compassionate as the United States is going to throw you out?

Yes, there is a small but very loud minority that would, but the emphasis is on "small" and "loud." It's simply not in our character. We know where we came from, we know why you're here, and a large, if quiet, majority are on your side. Just check the polls. We're going to figure this out.

I understand why this has been turned into a political issue; it's par for the course that partisans will try to demonize the other side and convince people that down their road lies perdition, and the news media loves the drama. But it's disappointing that you and a great many others have fallen for it. So, one more time: Conservatives, moderates, liberals — just about everyone other than a small tribe of irreconcilable nativists who think that immigration is inherently bad — we're all on your side, and we're going to figure this out.

As with everything else in American politics, it's going to be a loud and messy affair. As disconcerting and infuriating as the process can be, let's acknowledge that it does guarantee that everyone has his say, that all sides are heard, and that, in the end, the answer we come up with is one that the vast majority can endorse. And, given the rules of our civil society (written and unwritten), the irreconcilables on both sides will just have to live with it: the majority has spoken, and their decision will be honored.

But there is something that you need to understand about the conservative side of this argument. We are very, very worried about two issues, neither of which has a thing to do with you directly, but which have everything to do with the future of the nation and our governance.

The first is process, as in, how we go about setting the rules by which we govern ourselves. The process is Constitutionally-mandated. Congress passes a law, the president administers it, and the courts adjudicate the fate of accused lawbreakers and decide disputes. However, in recent decades there has been a slow but undeniable drift toward bypassing Congress. The president, through his many-headed bureaucracy, writes a rule, claims authority under some statute, and in effect makes new law without Congressional involvement.

Congress can, in theory, cancel the rule, and the courts can, in theory, declare it an abuse of power, but in the real world it's so difficult to pull off that the president usually gets his way. Republicans have been guilty of this, for sure, but Democrats more so, and the Obama administration dialed it up to 11. Obama's abuses were so egregious that conservatives were spurred to sue to overturn a number of rules — and unfortunately for you, one of those was DAPA, Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans, which was annulled. DACA, which is based on an identical rationale, thus could not stand. It's a matter of respecting and preserving the Constitutional order.

I'm truly sorry you got caught in this mess, but blame your parents for bringing you here illegally and Obama for not following the Constitutionally-required process. Even President Trump insists that he wants a DACA-style solution, as do the vast majority of legislators and the American people. We're going to do this, but it has to be done the right way, in accordance with the Constitution. The second thing is illegal immigration, and the concerns there are the rule of law and the fate of our culture.

First, the rules are the rules, and they must be enforced. Everyone knows you're not to blame for your predicament, but the rules as they stand apply to you. If the rule is wrong-headed, as in your case, there is a way to fix it, but that doesn't mean that it's unjust or unreasonable for those who knowingly and purposefully entered the U.S. illegally, including your parents.

Second, it is good and right to be concerned about the preservation of American culture, which, it bears noting, is why, in the broadest sense, your parents brought you here. At some unknowable point, immigration becomes invasion, and the risk is that the culture will be overwhelmed and altered for the worse. I won't apologize for believing that we are justified in ensuring that doesn't happen, and you should be glad of it.

So, Dreamers, be confident that, no matter how much drama it takes, in the end we're going to find a way to fix this that adheres to our political institutions and allows you to proudly take your place in your nation. I can't imagine any other outcome.

Kenneth D. Gough of Elizabethton is a semi-retired businessman.

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