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Dreamers neutralize the 'a-word'

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

After all, as everyone seems to agree, these undocumented young people broke no laws. And they committed no offense -- at least not knowingly or intentionally -- when they were brought to the United States as children, often against their will.

And the Dreamers certainly aren't looking for a pardon, or a waiver of "liability," or some other version of a free ride. They aren't ducking out on accountability.

In fact, nearly 700,000 of the 1.8 million people to whom Trump is offering legal status have already been vetted. It happened when they turned themselves over to authorities as part of the application process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). They got fingerprinted, had their photos taken and handed over their home addresses to immigration agents.

That's pure accountability, from start to finish. And so it only makes conservatives look foolish and uninformed when they blast DACA as an "unlawful executive amnesty." That's way off.

Of course, conservatives are likely to keep overusing the word "amnesty" -- even if it means applying the term where it doesn't belong. They've been doing it for more than 30 years, and they aren't about to stop now.

Yet, along the way, they should remember what they themselves always tell the rest of us about words like "racism" -- that the more you use it, the more it loses its power.

And sure enough, while the word "amnesty" used to fire up those who argued that we shouldn't reward bad behavior or excuse lawbreaking, it doesn't appear to have the same bite today.

 

A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that 73 percent of American voters -- including 49 percent of Republicans -- support giving legal status to Dreamers.

In the immigration debate, many Americans seem to have mellowed, matured and moved on from old slogans. More and more, they have no use for what were once highly charged words such as "amnesty." And, with any luck, soon they'll have no use for those who can't get beyond that kind of loaded vocabulary.

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Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group

 

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