The United States needs immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children.

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THE Obama administration’s program protecting young immigrants brought to this country illegally as children was meant to be a stopgap until Congress acted on immigration reform.

Now President Donald Trump has given Congress a deadline of six months to do what President Barack Obama wanted in the first place: Fix the nation’s broken immigration system.

The harsh, divisive rhetoric of Trump and U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions regarding immigration is repellent, but the challenge is now before Congress to shake off its dysfunction and finally act on immigration reform. It must not fail.

Trump rescinds DACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program has helped 800,000 young people avoid deportation, work legally in the United States and continue their education. Many already have made significant contributions as leaders, doctors, writers, soldiers and scientists.

Congress must create a path to citizenship for these young people. Those who were brought here illegally as children must be protected, not just the ones who have already signed up for the DACA program. It’s incumbent that Congress deliberates with a sense of urgency to avoid creating more fear and uncertainty.

Some immigrants have called this announcement the end of their lives as they know it. Congress should make sure that isn’t the case.

Americans who value the contributions immigrants make to this country will not tolerate mass deportations while Congress debates needed reform.

Fixing DACA is the first step. The bigger lift is long-needed reform addressing the immigrants who came here illegally but have built a new life here, pay taxes and are integral to our nation’s strong economy. As for immigrants who break the law, the U.S. has been deporting many and will continue to do so. That was the Obama administration policy and it continues, as it should.

The U.S. needs an immigration policy that provides a reasonable, predictable path to citizenship. Continue to improve border security, yes, but end the ridiculous distraction of a horrendously expensive, likely ineffective and darkly symbolic wall along the border with Mexico.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, already has vowed to work toward a solution for the so-called “Dreamers,” who have benefitted from the DACA program. As a leader in Congress who has demonstrated an ability to craft bipartisan solutions to tough challenges, Murray is up to the task.

Five years ago, Obama made a promise to the young people who were brought to this nation as children. He made that promise on behalf of the American people, a majority of whomsupport a path to citizenship for Dreamers. Congress needs to fulfill that promise.

Not only is that the right thing to do, the country needs these young people to become part of the permanent fabric of this nation of immigrants.