Gerow: There's no denying it: After a year of Trump, we have greater peace and prosperity

One year ago on Saturday, we celebrated the peaceful transition of power and the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States. 

It's been a tumultuous year, but as we reflect, who can argue that we aren't better off today than we were a year ago?

For all of the tweets and ill-advised off-hand comments the Left and the media like to focus upon, most Americans see the policies of this administration working for them. They are more prosperous, more safe and secure, and more hopeful about the future.

Trump's first year passes the Ronald Reagan test: "Are you better off than you were a year ago?" 

Trump promised several things along the campaign trail. One that caused many conservatives to vote for him, despite some misgivings, was his repeated pledge to appoint judges who would adhere to the Constitution and its original intent, not legislate from the bench.

The successful appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch was Trump's first major victory. In getting the fastest Supreme Court confirmation, President Trump gave the nation an outstanding jurist, possessed of exceptional qualities of temperament and scholarship, who has the opportunity to make his mark on American jurisprudence for a generation.

But there was more. The president also got a record number of circuit courts of appeal judges confirmed. Those jurists are in marked contrast to the Obama appointments who were "judicial activists," bent on legislating in robes.

Ditto for the federal district courts where the overwhelming caseload gets resolved. There are now lifetime appointees dedicated to upholding the plain meaning of the Constitution rather than those who want to tinker with it to meet their political agendas. 

The president has been criticized by some for not getting all of his ambitious agenda through congress. But look at what he did.

He successfully used executive action to undo many of the troubling over-reaches of his predecessor. His rollback of unnecessary and job-killing overregulation helped boost the burst of economic growth we are witnessing daily. He was able to dramatically stem the flow of illegal immigration even without congressional action.

His major legislative victory, the tax cut package, is already causing the economy to surge. The Dow shot past 26,000 this week. We've had the two fastest 1,000-point gains in history within the past month. It took until Ronald Reagan's administration for the market to get to 1,000. Now we're talking about a 1,000-point jump in a single week.

No administration would wisely peg itself to stock prices alone. So look at employment, growth in virtually every sector of the economy, consumer confidence and any other measure you'd like. 

Look at what Apple did this week and the repatriation of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of new jobs. Look at millions of hard-working Americans who got big bonuses even before the tax cuts kicked in.

Nancy Pelosi said the Tax Cut and Jobs Act was "Armageddon," the end of the world. That's not what the vast majority of Americans see. That same over-heated hype, which sadly has come to characterize criticism of this administration, came from Paul Krugman shortly after Trump was elected.

He told us that the economy would crater and the market would tank under a Trump presidency. The exact opposite happened. Our economy is soaring at a rate of better than 3 percent annually and is on track to eclipse that mark for the first time in more than a decade. The stock market is at all-time highs on an almost daily basis.

The president promised to destroy the Islamic State, and he's successfully done that. Their caliphate has been eliminated. A year ago, they controlled 25,000 square miles. Today they don't control much of anything geographically. Even their "capital" is gone.

Trump was harshly criticized by the Left for his remarks about North Korea and their thuggish dictator. They predicated all sorts of calamity. 

Today the North Koreans are at the negotiating table and are preparing to send Olympians to South Korea for the winter games. South Korean President Moon Jae-in summed it up, "I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about inter-Korean talks..." 

Of course, there's more to be done. The promised "infrastructure" package, which enjoys bi-partisan support, is yet to move. It's likely to be next on the agenda. Fixing Obamacare remains an open issue, although getting rid of the individual mandate was a big first step.

Any presidency is judged by the nation's assurance of peace and prosperity.

For all the mind-numbing chatter about this tweet and that, the fact remains that there's greater peace and prosperity than there was 365 days ago.

Gerow: Only Pragmatism Will Produce True Immigration Reform

Immigration is one of the most divisive issues facing our nation, but it shouldn’t be. Saying that we are a nation of immigrants is cliché. The greatest nation in the history of civilization is made up of and was built by immigrants.

In full disclosure, I am an immigrant. So was President Trump’s mother. His wife is too. So are millions of other Americans, many of whom you’d never know came from other lands unless they told you.

Today, more than a quarter of all Americans are either immigrants themselves or first generation Americans. That accounts for more than 80 million souls.

The impact of immigration on America’s economy and culture can’t be overstated. If there’s any doubt, ask the local farming or high-tech communities. It’s not just agriculture, a state’s biggest economic sector, that depends on a steady stream of immigrant workers.

There are many highly-skilled professions that depend on H-1B Visas to power their labor forces. There’s little doubt that our immigration system is broken. Both sides agree on that. Recently there have been glimmers of optimism that both sides might be getting to yes on many issues necessary to fix things.

One of the major issues confronting Congress is the fate of the "Dreamers," those brought here as children, who have remained for more than five years, gotten an education and stayed out of trouble. More than 800,000 of them registered under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or "DACA."

Unfortunately Mr. Obama’s executive action creating DACA far exceeded his legal authority. Last fall President Trump refused to extend it. He didn’t rescind it, instead putting the ball back in the court where it belongs — the United States Congress.

Now Congress has an opportunity to move past partisan bickering and forge a compromise, one respecing the rule of law, secures our borders, and also takes care of the Dreamers and allows a reasonable flow of legal immigration.

Sadly there are those who clamor for the Dreamers to be deported. That’s unrealistic on a number of levels, practically, politically and policy-wise. Then president-Elect Trump said, right after his 2016 victory, that he would "work something out" for the Dreamers. He wasn’t talking about deportation.

Republicans in Congress will have to reject those cries and move forward with recognition of the legal status of the Dreamers. Providing for the Dreamers is a potential political benefit for Republicans, some of whom fear that Dreamers will simply vote for Democrats if given the franchise.

A lot of credit will come their way from folks who have been here all their lives, are fully assimilated into our culture and life and whose problem hasn't been solved by past administrations.

Democrats will need to agree to increased border security, maybe even some form of a wall, changes in the visa lottery system, and ending chain migration.

By putting the matter back before Congress, President Trump created an opportunity. How far back that opportunity has been pushed by statements made by both the president and House Democratic Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., this week, remains to be seen.

The reaction of congressional leaders to those remarks was telling. The second-ranking Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer, said her "comment is offensive." U.S. House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., characterized President Trump’s remark as "unfortunate and unhelpful." Diplomacy is still king on Capitol Hill.

Congress needs to act on immigration reform. The best opportunity in years is before them. Without getting to broader issues like guest worker programs they can deal with DACA and border security.

In their deliberations they might well be guided by the words of saintly Father Theodore Hesburgh, the former president of the University of Notre Dame who once advised that we should shut the back door of illegal immigration in order to keep the front door of legal immigration wide open.

I, as one of the 80 million, am eternally grateful for that open door.