Striking a deal in Washington often requires horse trading. We understand that. But when one of the bargaining chips is the lives of some 800,000 immigrants brought here as children — 120,000 in Texas — the negotiating takes on a sickening smell.

This week members of Congress and President Donald Trump are trading demands for what it will take to continue the DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, program.

The program, started by President Obama, has provided work permits and a reprieve from deportation for some immigrants who were brought here by their parents and have never really known their birth countries.

The DACA recipients, called Dreamers, have graduated from high schools and attended colleges here. They hold respectable jobs. They serve in our military.

You can argue that their parents should be held accountable for illegally entering the United States. But it seems wrong to blame and punish young people, many who were barely out of diapers when adults decided they should grow up in the United States.

President Trump has given Congress a March 15 deadline to come up with a legal fix for the Dreamers or they’ll face deportation.

Most congressional Democrats and a fair number of Republicans want to find a solution that will allow the Dreamers to stay. The President told a bipartisan congressional delegation Tuesday if Congress can pass a plan that does that he’ll sign it. The hitch seems to be the President’s demand that border security and funding for a wall with Mexico be part of a deal.

Most everyone agrees we need a secure border. But defining what constitutes security and then paying for it has alluded Congress and previous administrations unable to adopt meaningful immigration reform. Texas has spent millions in state tax dollars on border surveillance arguing the federal government can’t seem to get the job done.

Linking these young people to a plan for border security is ridiculous. How is the border any more secure if they are deported?

Copyright 2018 Tribune Content Agency.

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