On Tuesday, Donald Trump rescinded Barack Obama’s executive order that allowed the creation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) by the Department of Homeland Security. He also made it clear that if Congress couldn’t put together some kind of immigration reform, he’d take a crack at it with an executive order.
On the surface, it would appear as though Trump has shot himself in the foot once again to satisfy the 36% of Americans that purportedly make up his base. He had just made great image progress in his very personal visits to Hurricane Harvey damaged Texas. But like all things Trump, this is being portrayed with great simplicity by the mainstream media (MSM). So once again we have to separate the Trump derangement from the real issues involved to understand what really happened on Tuesday.
What is DACA?
It’s an executive order issued by President Obama that went into effect in August of 2012. It was his attempt to solve the problem of the children of undocumented immigrants who in many cases have grown up as English speaking Americans and it defers any deportation action for renewable 2 year periods and provides a legal status through the issuance of work permits.
Here were the eligibility requirements for the Dreamers. They must:
- Be at least 15 and no older than 31 at the time of their request (however, can be under 15 if in a current removal situation)
- Hold a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED) or be a current high school student
- Have lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2012
- Come to the U.S before age 16
- Not be convicted felons (they may have up to 3 minor misdemeanors though)
And for Renewal:
- Must have had an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces or Coast Guard
(if they have served, which they were allowed to do since 2014)
So why is this such a Contentious issue?
Well, Donald Trump had campaigned vociferously on the Immigration issue. To his base and to others, this was an attempt to by former President Obama to circumvent the legislative process. It’s also a form of amnesty for illegal immigrants and the Right doesn’t like amnesty.
When the Obama Administration tried to expand the order in 2014 in yet another executive order that was much broader, Texas and 25 other states headed by Republican governors cried foul and claimed it was unconstitutional. The back and forth between the Obama administration and the governors ended in a tie in the Supreme Court (4-4) that solved nothing.
And it’s a very human issue with real appeal. Many of the DACA eligible “kids” have been in America for much of their lives and if you listened to interviews yesterday, many speak English as well as you or me. They didn’t ask to be brought to America and they’re innocent of breaking the law.
Also, this is likely an issue between those Americans afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome and their counterparts on the other side who had Obama Derangement Syndrome. Pro Trump Americans watched as legislative deadlocks in the Obama era led to executive orders and Trump has used executive orders to unravel Obama’s legacy.
It’s not all Trump’s fault
DACA has a much longer history as part of efforts to reform immigration by Congress since 2001. It was first called The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act (S.1291), hence the name “Dreamers” that we hear so often when referencing DACA.
By 2012, there had been almost 20 attempts to pass this legislation in Congress that ALL failed. So it’s an issue with a lot of history and sore feelings. But it also means that Congress has never really succeeded in solving even this one issue facing America and its undocumented population.
However, it makes you wonder why President Trump called Congress’ number on his handoff play yesterday. Neither Democrats or Republicans have covered themselves in glory when it comes to making the legislation work across the aisle.
Well, it’s Trump’s fault – a little.
Let’s face it, Trump’s optics on this issue…well….suck. First, does he even care about governing ALL of America or just his base? The DACA issue is really pretty easy to compromise on. It’s a finite number of people (800,000 so far) of which most are pretty decent young Americans already. They’ve been screened.
Once again he’s shown a reckless disregard for his image and failed to widen his base of supporters. He had just made progress in the handling of Harvey’s aftermath in Texas.
Why pick this issue right now as Congress comes back to wrestle with tax reform? Why not a quiet word to Republican House and Senate leadership with the suggestion that they use it as a bargaining chip to produce real immigration reform or to build “The Wall” or even for tax reform legislation?
DACA Belongs In Congress
As I suggested earlier, Congress has made a royal mess of immigration reform by kicking the can down the road for almost 17 years. In the meantime, the undocumented population of America has grown; The “Dreamers” have literally grown up waiting for relief from their burden of secrecy.
Not only that, but nearly one million Dreamers bought into the DACA promise and took a huge gamble on sharing their identity with the federal government – they’d be easy to round up and deport.They deserve better from America. This should be an easy one for Congress.
It’s time to stop governing through executive order and restore the legislative process. Donald Trump has handed the ball off to Congress. It’s a risky move with this dysfunctional group, but fixing DACA is a good place to start if Congress is going to restore a spirit of compromise in America. If Congress can run to daylight with DACA, it would be a big gain for our country.
Jon Saltzman is the Publisher and Senior Editor of Political Storm
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