EDITORIAL: In our hands

Final decision on DACA will rest with the voters

The Supreme Court last week ruled against President Trump’s efforts to negate President Obama’s order protecting from deportation foreign nationals who were brought to this country as children. The final word on the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals will rest with the people whom voters send to Congress in the November elections.

It’s just one more reason all eligible voters should pledge to cast their ballots this fall.

The court, in a 5-4 decision, did not resolve the question of whether or not DACA should remain as permanent policy; it left that decision to lawmakers.

“We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies. ‘The wisdom’ of those decisions ‘is none of our concern,’” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his majority opinion. “We address only whether the agency complied with the procedural requirement that it provide a reasoned explanation for its action.”

In other words, the Trump administration failed to give a compelling argument why Obama’s executive order establishing DACA should be rescinded. Roberts strongly suggested that deciding the fate of undocumented residents who have lived their whole lives here, and did not come here on their own, is a legislative issue.

Obviously, this is good news for the roughly 700,000 people who received DACA status; the Migration Policy Institute estimates another 600,000 people could meet the criteria to obtain the protections, but have chosen not to. So those who have qualified for the protections, and any who qualify in the future, are safe from the threat of deportation — for now.

We’ve heard the arguments for years: These are people who have lived here since they were children and this is the only home they know. They grew up here, were educated here, and many already are contributing members of our society. Removing DACA protections could send them to lands that are as foreign to them as they are to anyone else, and in some cases put their lives in danger. Many have established their own families, composed of natural-born U.S. citizens. President Trump has defended his immigration policies as being tough on border security, winning the White House in 2016 on the strength of a campaign that focused heavily on building a wall. His opponents characterize those policies, however, as playing upon some Americans’ fear of immigrants, and anticipate he’ll do the same this year.

Reelection could embolden him to step up his efforts to reduce if not stop immigration. Election of more Trump supporters to Congress in November probably will lead to legislation that will codify those efforts. Members who recognize the value and need for immigrants, on the other hand, could begin composing reasonable, workable immigration laws.

Those laws are sorely needed; Congress for decades has abdicated its duty to maintain reasonable immigration policies. And as more Americans clamor for those policies, Congress should feel more pressure than ever to provide them.

What course they take, however — supporting or opposing immigrants and their contributions — is up to the voters to decide.

It only adds to the importance of every vote.