The DACA initiative (“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”) was a grant of compassionate, needed relief by our former President, Barack Obama, as chief executive, and, no doubt, as an empathetic and dedicated family man. It was done by way of Executive Order, based on the continuing, obstinate refusal of Congress to enact such legislation. DACA affected approximately, 800,000 immigrants brought to the United States by parents (“illegal immigrants”) without proper documentation. It changed the lives of countless beneficiaries of the Act, enabling them to qualify for financial aid for college tuition, secure decent employment, open bank accounts and, generally, afforded them the quality of being self-sufficient. The enunciated initiative of President Trump to eliminate DACA is a cruel behavioral travesty and manifestly contrary to our tradition of welcome, famously symbolized by our Statue of Liberty.
The numerous arguments in favor of the maintenance of the program are compelling and shared by American citizens with any personal sense of fairness and empathy. The affected children were bought into this country entirely as a matter of their parent’s choice, and in general, have proven themselves to be responsible Americans, capable of adding value to our country; they have been raised here and know no other home. They go to school, work, pay taxes and serve in the military.
We have been able to ascertain only one argument in support of the termination of the program (and by its drastic consequence, deportation). The same is devoid of human feeling and is as non-specific and so general as to amount to an irrelevant and useless aphorism. The reason is the bare assertion that laws must be enforced; it is the purpose of this writing to discredit such reductionist ignorance.
Laws are a system of rules, created and enforced by governmental institutions charged with the regulation of behavior. Legal history has always categorized errant behavior into two distinct categories, malum prohibitum, and malum in se. Acts that are malum in se, are those that by their very nature are evil, such as homicide or robbery; by clear contrast, malum prohibitum, are acts which are unlawful solely by reason of Statute. No sane argument can be made that “illegal immigrants” are, as such, chargeable with the commission of acts which are intrinsically evil; their “illegality” merely amounts to entry into the country without the legislatively required paperwork.
Some decades ago, the truly eminent and intellectual Supreme Court Justice, Benjamin Cardozo, whose writings have been consequential guides to all rational legislation, advised that law (other than laws prohibiting evil) should properly change and evolve, sociologically, with their relevant era. The law has, in fact, changed in accordance with each developing era and society’s evolving sense of justice and morality. Declaring invalid laws permitting the owning of slaves, and the denial of women’s right to vote, enter into a contract or own property, were among the many inarguably positive sociological and morally evolved adjustments to our previously enforceable legal system.
The 19th Century French novelist, Anatole France wryly stated, “It is suggested that the equality of the law forbids the rich and poor alike, to sleep under bridges, beg for food and steal loaves of bread.” The nature of such satire seems applicable to the reductionist mindset of those who would cite an irrelevant aphorism (about general obedience to the law) as justification for the tragic and unthinkable destruction of thousands of families; a necessary result of the proposed elimination of DACA.
We are instructed that the Bible advises, let him who has broken no law, cast the first stone. It is a matter of official and public record that a many members of the present administration, including the President himself, are under investigation by the FBI, various Congressional Committees and a top independent investigator, for offenses which, if proven, would qualify as very serious crimes including, treason, fraud, perjury, bribe taking, conflict of interest, misuse of government facilities, interference with the prosecutorial process, election tampering and perhaps, other immoral and illegal acts yet to be uncovered. It is a colossally shameful hypocrisy for this administration to casually cite the general obligation to obey the law, as its sole justification for the tragic destruction of so many lives for the offense of lacking required paperwork; solutions to such problems, if needed, can conceivably be legislated.
On the positive side, let us by all means not overlook the added value of countless intellectual and material benefits, historically added to our nation, from foreign aspirants to the American way of life.