Trump’s Critics Get it Backwards on DACA
If the Trump Administration’s announcement about the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has taught us anything it’s that neither Democrats nor the media has any idea what to make of Donald Trump.
On Tuesday, the Trump Administration announced its intention to phase out the DACA program, which allowed certain illegal immigrants who entered the county as minors to receive renewable two year waivers of deportation if they met certain criteria.
The Obama-era policy was undoubtedly unconstitutional. Even President Obama said so on numerous occasions.
“Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting,” Obama said in 2011. “Not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how – that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
Obama didn’t waver from that stance over the next several years despite the rising volume of amnesty advocates.
“If we start broadening [the Dream Act], then essentially I’ll be ignoring the law in a way that I think would be very difficult to defend legally,” the president said in a 2013 interview with Telemundo. “So that’s not an option.”
“This is something that I have struggled with throughout my presidency,” Mr. Obama said in separate interview from the same year. “The problem is, is that I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute the laws that are passed.”
Ultimately, President Obama set aside any fidelity to our system, our democracy, and our Constitution and donned the crown of an emperor to unilaterally decide to grant immigrants a rolling two-year reprieve from deportation. Perhaps, as a matter of policy it was the right thing to do, even if procedurally it was abhorrent, but if so one is still left to wonder why President Obama didn’t act much sooner. Victor David Hanson writes for National Review:
[N]ote his about-face came only after the fact that from January 2009 to January 2011, Obama enjoyed a large majority in the House, and until Scott Brown’s election in 2010, a supermajority in the Senate, led by Harry Reid. And yet over that period, Obama did not force over the impotent objections of Republicans a DACA bill that would now have precluded the present conundrum — in the fashion in which he had successfully pushed through Obamacare without a single Republican vote.
Observers have a right to be a little skeptical about the current outrage that was not voiced against an American president in 2009–12, who passed on the opportunity of DACA amnesty, and added insult to injury to “dreamers” by asserting that his constitutional lawyering made it unethical and illegal to pass a law by fiat and circumventing the Congress — at least until he needed reelection heft.
Since when is policymaking in the name of politically expediency all that compassionate? Especially when the foundation is built upon the shifting sands of executive authority (further eroded by clear unconstitutionality) rather than the rock of democratically-produced legislation. But now President Trump has set about to change all of that by putting the onus where it belongs—on Congress—to pass a legal version of the program.
Trump’s decision was, unsurprisingly, met with apocalyptic rhetoric. Democratic lawmakers and the media immediately jumped to the conclusion that President Trump had ended DACA and would soon be rounding up Dreamers for deportation. Nancy Pelosi, in one representative soundbite, called Trump’s decision “a deeply shameful act of political cowardice and a despicable assault on innocent young people.”
Do they just not pay attention? President Trump didn’t end DACA. He didn’t even suspend DACA. It will largely operate as-is for the next six months, after which the president set a clear expectation that Congress should complete the long-overdue work of finding a permanent solution. This is about mustering the political courage Democrats never showed in order to get Dreamers out of political limbo.
This should not be all that surprising to anyone who listened carefully to President Trump’s statements since becoming president.
“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told TIME in one representative interview in November. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Speaker Paul Ryan, in his statement following Trump’s decision, displayed similar compassion for the Dreamers.
“The president’s announcement does not revoke permits immediately, and it is important that those affected have clarity on how this interim period will be carried out. At the heart of this issue are young people who came to this country through no fault of their own, and for many of them it’s the only country they know. Their status is one of many immigration issues, such as border security and interior enforcement, which Congress has failed to adequately address over the years. It is my hope that the House and Senate, with the president’s leadership, will be able to find consensus on a permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”
Do these sound like the evil caricatures that Democrats paint Republicans to be? No. They are simply trying to find a constitutionally-sound path to replace DACA with a workable solution. This is about restoring the proper boundaries of our democratic system, and with it, the proper roles of the executive and legislative branches. That Democrats’ would opportunistically paint that as an assault on kids is the real despicable event in all of this.