Putting an End to the Immigration Dream
Reports indicate Trump will end DACA as early as today. Will he follow through and what will it look like?
Since it was unconstitutionally enacted under Barack Obama in 2012 in the wake of Congress’s refusal to pass the DREAM Act — a measure that would have amounted to amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has served as the next best thing for nearly 800,000 people claiming they arrived here as children under the age of 16, even if they make this claim many years later. (A couple hours of paperwork and some nominal fees are a small price to pay for de facto legal status.)
However, the courts have chipped away at the stone of Obama’s open-borders fantasy, halting the related DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) program in 2014 — a verdict the Supreme Court sustained last year thanks to a 4-4 deadlock. With the DACA program also facing its day in court thanks to an executive-overreach lawsuit filed by 10 state attorneys general, there are those who see this as an opportunity for President Donald Trump to rectify our issues with illegal immigration.
This is because the Trump administration is likely to concede to the states in this legal matter, as his administration believes DACA crossed the boundary that separates executive and legislative powers. Notably, Attorney General Jeff Sessions agrees with the lawsuit’s intent, stating, “I like it that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account, expecting us to do what’s our responsibility to the state and locals and … enforce the law.”
Yet for all the tough talk candidate Trump uttered about stopping the influx of illegal immigration by building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, along with tossing out thousands of illegal aliens who have committed further, more serious criminal acts, his record on immigration is rather weak to date. Not all of it is his fault, of course. He’s been confounded by a court system full of activist judges and a GOP divided on how to best address the issue. But on this particular issue President Trump himself stated early in his term that he wanted to “deal with DACA with heart.”
With this pull from several different directions, there are reports that Trump will end DACA as soon as today. If not, it may be that he seeks to use the continuance of DACA as a bargaining chip in exchange for funding the border wall, or to elicit other concessions from Democrats on E-Verify or on passage of the RAISE Act, a measure sponsored by Republican Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue that would revamp the long-standing quota system which encourages entire extended families to make themselves right at home here by making immigration more merit-based.
At this point, funding the border wall seems more of a non-starter because Democrats who voted for the wall 11 years ago are threatening a government shutdown over its inclusion in the budget now — a shutdown the mainstream media will naturally blame on Donald Trump and Republicans.
Thus, given the real possibility of DACA being halted by the courts, a new political parlor game among analysts is figuring out the ramifications of such an occurrence. Like everything else in Washington, the question is how this will affect the 2018 midterms, but there’s also the question of Trump’s second term: How would a court battle that may keep him from delivering on this promise affect his supporters?
A narrative driven by the media is that being a hardliner on immigration alienates the all-important (and growing) Latino vote, which both parties covet. Yet Donald Trump won over enough support from ordinary Americans with his hawkish border talk to secure electoral victory, and so far that image has discouraged would-be illegals from sneaking across the border. On the other hand, if the word on the street south of the border becomes that of possible permisos for newcomers because Trump is working to maintain DACA, we can expect a flood of illegal immigration while the border wall we were promised over a decade ago continues to languish.
That’s why any announcement today or in the near future on eliminating DACA would be so important.
It’s just another reminder of how five decades of misguided policy, broken vows and just plain unconstitutional governance can’t be fixed in a matter of months, no matter how strident the rhetoric.