Monday, January 22, 2018

A Different Perspective on DACA - By Bill Taylor

Sometimes it is helpful to look at an issue from another perspective, to see what the other person is seeing.  Since we've been hearing and reading about the immigration-DACA issue for so long now, let's attempt to look at this topic from perspectives different from the common theme.  These other perspectives attempt to move beyond simple emotion and ask slightly more meaningful questions regarding the topic, reaching for a reason-based solution.
The common theme is "They were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own.  Why should we punish them by making them go back?"  The first word we can turn around is "punish."  A completely different way to view this might be as follows.  "You were born in a Central or South American country and were destined to spend your first 25 years (at least) in that country, which affords significantly fewer opportunities than are available above the Rio Grande.  But, as luck would have it, you were randomly selected, among all of the 600 million people who live down there, to be able to spend your first 25 years in the promised land, where essentially every single measure of quality of life exceeded that which you initially faced.  At the end of that time, you'd be asked to go back to your native country and begin to contribute there.  Perhaps, when back home, you might even be able to improve your homeland.  You'd have an exponentially better chance of doing so, given the opportunities you were provided.  In fact, one could make the argument that you would have an obligation to do so, given the complete randomness of your selection.  So, given that choice, DACA children, which would you have selected?"
There are essentially two options:
  • "No, thank you – I'd rather stay here and grow up in my native country, which is so lacking in hope that my parents broke laws just to escape."
  • "I'll take that lucky opportunity, and I look forward to the chance to pay back some of what I've been gifted by committing to take my skills back and help my native land."
It is difficult to imagine anyone picking the former.
Now, in addition to finding a new perspective from the DACA recipient side, let's take a view from the DACA benefactor side – that which we fortunate U.S. citizens might take.  We recognize we've got a wonderful country with plenty of opportunity.  We are thankful for that, and inside each of us there is a sense of wanting to share that blessing – we'd like to see others in the world have that same opportunity.  But if we want that opportunity for some, don't we want it for all?
So, if we honestly recognize that our goal is good economic and quality-of-life opportunities for all, we're now in a predicament.  It is folly to think we can bring 600 million people here and expect the U.S. to still be a land of great opportunity (and simultaneously leave empty an entire beautiful continent).  As a nation, we are clearly not spending any time considering this concept, choosing instead to see only what is at our doorstep and immediately jumping onto the emotion bandwagon.  That approach contradicts our big-picture goal.  Even worse, given the educational level of this nation, that method of problem-solving is completely shameful and irresponsible.
If we really do care about all the others, we have no choice but to help them where they are.  Simply encouraging the most mobile to come to the U.S. is completely contrary to the goal.  Thus, perhaps another concept in the common theme, which we can turn around, is the term "making them go back," instead viewing it as "enabling them to go back."  At this point in time, the U.S. has a great opportunity to promote the goal of helping those people by helping their native countries.  "Here are millions of your people.  For years, we have given them opportunities they never would have had back home.  They are healthy and welleducated, have been exposed to a culture of self-determination, and have many ideas on business.  Please welcome them back and watch as they help your country grow."  That would be a twist on the dialogue.  We may even kick in some targeted money to help the most promising returning business folks get started in their home countries, with an eye on building an environment where people will not desire to emigrate.  Compare that to the current DACA solution, "just let them stay," which does absolutely nothing for the home countries (the root of the problem), contains absolutely no thought about immigration solutions for five or twenty years from now, and guarantees that the problems remain.
To summarize, in contrast to the current state-of-the-art discussion on DACA (comprising little thought and much emotion), the views offered above are examples of potentially more helpful perspectives.  They are initiated by an honorable emotion ("we'd like to help other people") but then go the next step to consider the bigger picture and attempt to solve the real problem.  Such an approach, and subsequent dialogue, is what should be expected of an educated public and its elected officials.  Two hundred years ago, a group of men sat together and created an entire country and government.  Though emotion may have initiated the concept, the documents they produced (from the Federalist Papers to the Constitution) were full of reason and intelligently addressed topics much more complicated than this.  Let's take a lesson from them and provide a reasoned solution, not an emotional kick-the-can-down-the-road.