Friday, November 03, 2017

OCPA's Small: The Right Path

The Right Path
By OCPA President Jonathan Small

While Americans have different views about what’s to be done with those who have come to our country illegally, most are open to some form of leniency for those brought here as children. Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. James Lankford has offered a sensible proposal to address that issue.

Sen. Lankford’s SUCCEED Act would declare that children brought here before June 15, 2012, under the age of 16 could be granted conditional residency. If they attend school, work or serve in the military, and avoid criminal acts, they’d receive permanent status after 10 years and then be eligible for full citizenship in an additional five years.

This is a sensible compromise for those young people granted an open-ended, but legally dubious, deferment from the enforcement of immigration laws by former President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order.

Significantly, that action followed several years of debate in Congress over how to handle youthful illegal aliens. Several versions of legislation had failed to pass, in most cases because the rules were seen as too lenient. The DACA rules were criticized for the same reason; it was estimated at the time the Obama administration implemented them that up to 1.8 million people could qualify.

The Trump administration has since canceled the DACA rules, which covered an estimated 800,000 illegal aliens. The SUCCEED Act would replace those rules with clear legislation that allows these children and young adults who follow the rules to remain while making it clear that we’ll continue to enforce existing immigration laws. As Sen. Lankford has noted, “the vision of the Statue of Liberty is still true, but the law also still stands.”

As you might expect, his proposal has already been attacked from both extremes on the immigration issue. Hard-liners think it’s too soft, while those demanding open borders also object. Some D.C. interests seem more interested in prolonging the debate rather than fixing the problem.

It’s hard to see how expecting these young people to graduate from high school, hold jobs, pay taxes, and obey the law is cruel; it’s also hard to see how hard-working young people who hope to become productive members of American society and ultimately citizens are a threat. A fundamental part of our American belief system is striving to operate by the rule of law while mitigating the impact of bad actions by adults on their children.

Our current immigration enforcement is broken; to do nothing is a de facto amnesty. By implementing Sen. Lankford’s legislation, we’ll move closer to addressing the government’s failure on immigration policy and ensuring the rule of law.

Oklahoma should be proud of Sen. Lankford for taking on such a tough issue and working toward a constructive solution.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (


Post a Comment

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME when commenting. Anonymous comments may be rejected if NOT accompanied by a name.

Comments are welcome, but remember - commenting on my blog is a privilege. Do not abuse that privilege, or your comment will be deleted.

Thank you for joining in the discussion at! Your opinion is appreciated!