With the announcement that President Donald Trump plans to do away with a temporary order shielding some immigrants from deportation, the time is now to get something concrete passed into law. But as much as comprehensive immigration reform is certainly needed, this issue might better be tackled as a stand-alone bill.
The immediate issue concerns the status of about 800,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children. Former President Barack Obama cleared the way for them to stay in the country provided that they were working or going to school. Many of them have been here for decades. They include high school and college graduates. They live and work in our neighborhoods. Hundreds of them have enlisted in the U.S. Army.
U.S. Rep. John Katko said that he'd like to find a compromise that would allow honest and hardworking people to stay in the country, even if they entered illegally once upon a time. But he also said that he wants to pass a "whole package" of changes to immigration policy and border security at the same time.
We agree that comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue, but given the track record of this Congress (think health care), our fear is that an all-encompassing bill might just grind to a halt and accomplish nothing at all.
We urge Katko to keep an open mind and agree to consider legislation that will address the specific issue of the so-called "Dreamers" hoping to avoid deportation.
This isn't about Trump or Obama. And it isn't about building a wall. It's about real people — people who grew up in America but are now facing the real possibility of being forced to leave the only country they've ever known.