When, right out of the starting block, President Donald Trump reneged on a key campaign vow, he inadvertently laid the foundation for a swamp of his own making just months later. On the campaign trail, President Trump repeatedly promised to end “on day one” deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA).
But, the president lollygagged, appeased the DACAs with flattering language, and allowed President Obama’s unilaterally created program to go forward. For seven months since President Trump’s election, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has approved thousands of new DACA applications, renewed rollovers, and continued issuing Social Security numbers, work permits, and approving other affirmative benefits.
Looking in the rear view mirror, President Trump’s failure to make good on his DACA promise has given the pro-immigration faction a bargaining chip to negotiate what insiders like to call a grand bargain – give amnesty to the DACAs, and, in exchange, we’ll help you get what you want, namely funding for the Southwest border wall. That’s how one-sided grand immigration bargains work. Amnesty is instantaneous; border security comes later, if ever.
The muddle President Trump fashioned by perpetuating DACA is inexplicable. Ending it would take only seconds – issue a one-sentence memo to USCIS ordering it to terminate the program. President Obama created DACA by memo, not an executive order, and not an executive action. President Trump can kill DACA the same way President Obama created it – with a memo.
Instead of DACA being defunct for the 200-plus days of the Trump administration, immigration advocates can now use it to hammer President Trump to achieve their agenda. And the advocates include more than just the usual congressional Democratic suspects. Among them are President Trump’s daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law Jared Kushner – who are both White House advisors – Vice President Mike Pence as well as former and current Chiefs of Staff Reince Priebus and John Kelly. In their previous lives as a U.S. Representative and the Republican National Party Chair, Pence and Priebus actively but unsuccessfully promoted amnesty. Collectively, the inner circle immigration expansionists represent a powerful and influential alliance.
As united as President Trump’s base is in its opposition to DACA, it’s mostly unaware of how egregious the program is. In news stories, in Congress and in the president’s speeches, DACA is referred to as a program for young people brought by their parents to the U.S. as minors. From a recent McClatchy story describing DACA’s history: “…to protect young people brought into the country illegally as children…”
Yet, the USCIS qualifying guidelines don’t specify how the minors must have arrived; they could simply have crossed illegally or paid smugglers. Moreover, despite President Trump’s claim that DACAs are great kids, multiple misdemeanor offenders have been allowed into the program.
Ten states’ Attorneys General have imposed a September 5 deadline for the Trump administration to nullify DACA, or they’ll file a lawsuit, and likely prevail. But if, in the meantime, President Trump caves in, his voter base would be unforgiving. Voters never forget immigration betrayal.
The nation elected President Trump because of his commitment to enforce immigration laws, and end unconstitutional DACA. President Trump should follow his campaign instincts. End DACA, and take the bargaining chip away from immigration advocates before it’s parlayed into an amnesty Americans don’t want.