Immigration

Interpreting the DREAM

While Trump recognized the unconstitutionality of DACA, his plan isn't as clear cut as first believed.

Lewis Morris · Sep. 13, 2017

President Donald Trump’s announcement to end his predecessor’s unconstitutional DACA program caused a major stir across the country. The media went wild, protesters filled the streets, Barack Obama raged and 15 Democrat state attorneys general filed a lawsuit, all decrying the horror of deporting hundreds of thousands of young people brought to this country illegally as children. Yet there is no cause for alarm for these immigration sympathizers.

To clarify, DACA technically still exists. Trump’s order gave the so-called DREAMers a six-month reprieve. During this time, Congress has the opportunity to actually make DACA legal through legislation, a pesky detail with which Obama didn’t want to trouble himself. Knowing Congress’s track record, they will probably wait five months and three weeks before taking on a DACA bill, but even if they miss the deadline, it may not matter.

For all the energy spent demonizing Trump for ending an executive order that should never have existed, DREAMer sympathizers may have a better friend in the White House than they previously thought. For starters, Trump has offered to forego funding the border wall in exchange for a DACA bill. It was premature of him to make this offer because it gives away his bargaining position before DACA has even been formally proposed in Congress. It’s also not smart from a policy perspective because any immigration reform that takes place within our borders is meaningless unless our borders are secure from letting in more illegal immigrants.

As if it weren’t enough that the wall has gone from key campaign promise to bargaining chip, Trump appears to have gone soft on the immigration issue altogether. He recently tweeted that if Congress does not get DACA done, he will revisit the issue himself. Just what that means is unclear, which is the way Trump likes it.

There are several possibilities as to how the DACA drama will unfold. If Congress comes up with a bill to make DACA legal, then the 800,000 children of illegals will be allowed to stay. Whether they will get the work permits that DACA originally promised remains to be seen. But they will not get kicked out of the country and families will remain intact. The price of this bill may be the border wall. If that is the case, then the illegal immigration problem will continue and DACA will be a self-perpetuating mechanism in which children of illegals will keep arriving in America and gain citizenship through a loophole.

If Congress for some reason does not act on DACA, Trump may extend the program another six months, or indefinitely. The status quo will be maintained. At this point it is unclear if more eligible people will be allowed to join the program, but the 800,000 individuals who are already in stay in. In this instance, the border wall remains on the table.

Trump’s actions on DACA, while welcome in that he has recognized the unconstitutional work of his predecessor, are not as clear cut as first believed. He has proved his desire to deal with Democrats on the issue, but has he given away too much by putting the border wall on the chopping block?

Consideration should also be given to legal immigrants who are being cast aside so that individuals knowingly brought into this country illegally by their illegal immigrant parents could gain legal status. It is fundamentally unjust that they should have to wait longer to gain citizenship because of the government chooses to accommodate people who have broken the law. Any DACA bill that comes along should take this into consideration.

These children of illegal immigrants are indeed sympathetic figures. They have spent much of their lives in this country, and they did not ask to be brought to the United States and put into the situation they now find themselves. But the statistics aren’t the whole story, and there needs to be a clear path forward to settle the question of their future in this country. There also must be a way to ensure that more of them are not brought here under the promise of guaranteed legal status.

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