Rep. Chris Smith, Republican congressman from New Jersey’s 4th District, needs to take a firmer stand on DACA. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump rescinded DACA, a move that could upend the lives of nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.
Smith issued a statement announcing that he “look[s] forward to working in a bipartisan fashion with [his] colleagues in the House and Senate to craft a humane legislative solution to protect individuals brought to the U.S. as children.” As a congressman who prides himself on protecting human rights at home and abroad, he needs to stand firmer.
During the last presidency, Congress failed to present a bill that satisfactorily protected undocumented immigrants brought to our country as children. Children who grew to be adults that serve in our military, own businesses that employ other Americans, teach our children, pay income taxes, are held to vigorous standards, and are our neighbors. How can we trust that bipartisan collaboration will produce results quickly enough to protect those who will be left vulnerable come 2018?
This decision should hit close to home for Smith, who works diligently towards an honorable goal of protecting human trafficking victims. Mexico, and some Central American countries where Dreamers originate from—including El Salvador, a country whose civil war was funded in part by the U.S. — are major sources of human trafficking. Children are especially vulnerable, and one can only imagine how many Dreamers escaped such a fate by coming to the U.S. as children.
Smith needs to call rescinding DACA what it is — heartless and self-defeating — and stand firmly and vocally against it unless an alternative policy is enacted to protect all Dreamers. A quarter million people cannot afford to gamble their homes, families and livelihoods on a policy that might never come.
This letter also appeared in the Asbury Park Press.