Today President Obama correctly used his Executive authority to carry out those parts of the Dream Act which he could implement without the approval of Congress. Is it election year politics? Absolutely! After all, Senator Marco Rubio (R) of Florida proposed an almost identical partial solution to the issue of those undocumented immigrants who were brought to the USA as minors under 16 years of age. Only the most extreme right-wing argues that those children are criminals. Most go with the common law interpretation that a minor child under the control of his/her parents cannot be charged with a major criminal act when forced to take an action by his/her parents. Many would even say that the child could not be even charged with a minor criminal act, particularly if the child was under age 12 (or 10 or 8, depending on the state).
However, Tea Party advocates have argued that the minute that child turns 16 (though most would say 18), the child automatically becomes a criminal unless they self-deport to a land that they may no longer remember, to a language that they may not speak well, to a culture in which they do not know how to survive, and with only a basic high school education, which will give them no future, leaving behind parents and siblings. Given that there are Tea Party members that stridently argue that the children of illegal immigrants should not even be allowed to go to school and you get a picture of an uneducated child who when he/she turns 18 should morally and willingly return to a country in which s/he is almost certainly doomed to a life in the poorest sectors of an already poor society. Both Orthodox and Roman Catholic bishops have made it clear that any approach that has such a low regard for the quality of life of those affected is not worthy of being considered a pro-life approach.
Recently, former Governor Jeb Bush made it clear that the Bush clan is not in favor of the Tea Party approach to immigration. For instance, just last Monday (11 June) he was quoted by more than one news media outlet as criticizing the current Tea Party approach. For instance, one newspaper comments:
Speaking at a breakfast with national reporters held by Bloomberg View in Manhattan, Mr. Bush questioned the party’s approach to immigration, deficit reduction and partisanship, saying that his father, former President George Bush, and Reagan would struggle with “an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement.”
Other newspapers quoted Jeb Bush’s more explicit criticisms with regard to Hispanic policy reporting that he lambasted some current Republicans for taking an approach toward Latinos that only ever spoke about tighter borders with no other solution in mind. It is important to note that both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry oppose a harsh illegal immigrant policy. For instance last December John McCain was interviewed. The media outlet reported:
The last time a Republican candidate called for some illegal immigrants to be forgiven their initial trespass into the country in the interest of humanity, they went from frontrunner to punchline. So it was with some element of audacity that Newt Gingrich, the current frontrunner, took up the mantle that destroyed Rick Perry, coming under fire from Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann, who argued Gingrich was giving illegal immigrants an incentive to stay.
These quotes point out that the Republican Party is not united on the issue of immigration reform, particularly when applied to those brought to this country as minors. One can be against the Tea Party and still be a conservative. Dream Act reforms are not merely some liberal craziness but both a humanistic and a very Christian response to a very difficult issue. The bottom line is that minors should be treated differently than adults viz a viz the legal system. This brings up another point. The Tea Party supposedly was a movement that had to do with the financial deficit. However, it quickly morphed into a political movement whose various stances have shown it to be an umbrella movement under which various questionable positions have flourished. Various of the Tea Party positions are not in accord with pronouncements of either Orthodox or Roman Catholic bishops.
Let me now make a final point. Since its beginnings, the Tea Party has shown a previously unknown disrespect of a President who is making a speech or delivering an address. From his very first State of the Union address, President Obama was interrupted. This had never ever happened to a previous USA president. Nevertheless, the Tea Party was almost gleeful about it, claiming that it somehow showed a David standing up to a Goliath, rather than showing an ill-mannered representative whose only thought was that freedom of speech only applied to those with whom he agreed, but not to those with whom he disagreed. In the same vein, President Obama was interrupted, yet again, during his announcement in the Rose Garden by a conservative website blogger who tried to prevent him from finishing his announcement by trying to pepper him with questions. I am sure that Tea Party members will come to his support. I simply consider this another frightening sign that should the Tea Party ever take control, any who are against it will be silenced.
Finally, let me say that even though this is election year politicking, yet it has resulted in a very positive step to deal appropriately with those who are innocent in this immigration debate.