Last Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the termination of former President Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an executive order providing illegal aliens who entered the United States before the age of 16 with renewable access to such benefits as work permits, access to Social Security, Medicare and protection from deportation.
The downfall of DACA, which was eminently far more than an act of prosecutorial discretion, is a victory for America’s Constitution and separation of powers.
Congressional Democrats reacted with fiery contempt. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) claimed that “President Trump’s action today is an affront to who we are as Americans,” a sentiment echoed by her colleagues in Congress.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) argued that the decision “flies in the face of our nation’s core values.” Other representatives decried the decision as “toxic mindlessness and heartlessness,” “super cruel,” and a “heartless betrayal to courageous young #DREAMers.”
The proponents of illegal immigration reveal a startling left-wing chicken coming home to roost: The belief that America has no legitimate right to control who enters the country nor deny illegal aliens of a path to citizenship. The common defense of DACA, aside from human interest stories, is ostensibly that minors are not responsible for immigrating illegally and must be granted pseudo-legal status lest they be unjustly punished for the crimes of their parents.
But this is not consistent with the left’s general stance on illegal immigration, an ideology that seeks for amnesty to be the rule rather than the exception.
Recall Obama’s announcement of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) in 2014, a planned policy to provide similar benefits as DACA to illegal immigrant parents of American citizens or permanent residents, which was never implemented due to a massive state lawsuit.
And as is clear by its embrace of hundreds of so-called Sanctuary Cities, which hinder local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities, even when illegal aliens are arrested or jailed for additional crimes on top of their illegal entry, the left does not generally condone deportation of anyone, criminals included.
Extremely common felonies include I-9 perjury, identity theft, and social security fraud, which one report from the Center for Immigration Studies claimed that over 75% of all working-age illegal immigrants committed as of 2009.
At this point, the human interest stories are the only defense, and the open borders chicken rears its ugly head. The only honest defense facing DACA’s termination is that it isn’t nice. Obama said that “ultimately, this is about basic decency…this is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people — and who we want to be.”
The standard for granting amnesty is not truly based on protecting children, but on avoiding inconveniencing anybody at all who is seeking a better life in America — the legal immigration process be damned.
Are “our core values” lawlessness and anti-constitutionalism? Did the United States always welcome illegal immigration with open arms until the big bad Trump blew “our core values” down?
There can be significant human interest for certain DACA recipients; those who have lived in America continuously from a very young age, who know no other home, could make a compelling case for deferred action on a humanitarian basis.
But the notion that the law must not be enforced against illegal aliens who entered the country as, for instance, fifteen-year-olds simply by virtue of them being fifteen-year-olds is untenable.
Terminating DACA is not a question of punishing children for the crimes of their parents; it is most often a question of allowing adults to continue benefitting from the crimes of their parents. The degree of an illegal alien’s ties to America versus their country of origin must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
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These are legitimate, nuanced policy discussions that Congress could have. But the solution is not for the president to grant blanket de-facto amnesty to a broad group of up to 1.7 million people. That’s not to say that DACA as it stands, being an incredibly flawed policy, should be codified into law by Congress either, as President Trump seems intent to push them to do.
Despite DACA’s flaws, Congress at least has the authority to implement it. Checking the Executive Branch’s power is something we should all agree on.
Skylar Orenstein Buono ([email protected]) is a post-baccalaureate student studying Computer Science, and a former immigration legal assistant