DACA vs The Wall: What is this shutdown all about?

What is Congress really battling over?

Jake Hughes
January 22, 2018 - 9:37 am

Well, it's officially happened. For the second time in less than a decade, the government has "shut down." I was affected by the last one in 2013. I was supposed to go to the Army's Advanced Leaders Course, but there was no budget for travel, so I had to wait, thus costing me a look for E-7. That shutdown was mainly over the raising of the "debt ceiling," or how much further in debt the government can go. That's pretty cut-and-dry. But what about this shutdown? What are the warring factions of Congress battling over now? Sure, there are lots of nuances and minor things, but the biggest debate centers on immigration, specifically President Trump's much vaunted "Wall," and the Democrat's beloved DACA. What does all that mean?

DACA is pneumonic device for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act. Signed into law by President Obama in June of 2014, the so-called "Dreamers Act" is an immigration policy that allowed some individuals who entered the country as minors, and had either entered or remained in the country illegally, to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit.

To be eligible, illegal immigrants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military, among other things. The policy was rescinded by Trump in September of 2017, giving Congress six months to decide on what to do with the "Dreamers."

On the other side is the storied "Wall." Since the beginning of his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump has been promising a border wall spanning the entire U.S..-Mexico border. The plan has gone through many permutations. Initially, Trump promised that Mexico would pay for it through their existing trade surplus with the U.S.

After his election, his tune changed a bit after Mexico stated very clearly that they would not pay for it. He has since been seeking congressional money to pay for it, even conceding that parts of it would not be a solid wall, but a fence of some kind. In addition to the Wall, Trump has called for an end to "Chain migration," immigrants to sponsor non-immediate family members for citizenship. Also, Republicans want to end the current "lottery" for work Visas, and move to a more merit-based system.

(photo by Andrew Nelles, USA Today)

Now, that's a lot of words. In a nutshell, it boils down to the Democrats want to keep illegal immigrants in the country and give them a path to citizen ship, at the same time making it easier for people to enter the country. Republicans on the other hand want to restrict illegal immigration, increase border security, and deport those who are in this country illegally. No matter how you slice it, this is, as a former tank commander of mine would say, a "sticky wicket." Most "Dreamers" have been in this country for years, established lives, and may have never even visited their home country in years. Is it fair to just deport them now? I mean, they were minors when they were brought here. Should they have to pay for the "sins of the father?" On the other hand, shouldn't people who want to be in this country respect its laws? And I have never heard a good argument as to why we should not know exactly who enters our country. And hell, even the liberal paradise of Canada has a merit-based immigration system! Why shouldn't the U.S..?

There is no easy answer. Both sides are showing signs of being willing to compromise. Both President Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have signaled they are willing to negotiate on DACA, and at least one Democratic senator has softened her take on the Wall. Tempers are flared due to the shutdown, and tensions between the left and right have never been higher. Republicans accuse the Democrats of just wanting to expand their voting base, and Democrats accuse Republicans of being racist.

In the end, all I, and I think you, can do is remain calm and try to rise above the rhetoric. If you're getting all your news from Vox or The Daily Wire, you're not getting the full story. Don't be an ideologue and completely ignore the other side. One of my mom's favorite country bands, Alabama, has a song with the lines, "We gain a lot of ground, if we both give a little, ain't no road to long, if we meet in the middle." Like on most issues, that's where the answer must come from. The entire point of our system of government is compromise. So please, take a breath, step back, and try to see both sides of the issue.