On the Monday of Donald Trump’s first full week in office, the president immediately made good on several of his campaign promises. Among other actions, Trump withdrew the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership and instituted a federal hiring freeze except for military personnel. A day later, Trump met with chief executive officers from the Big Three auto companies – Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler – and, as he did with TPP, continued to focus on his signature issue, bringing jobs back to America.
But on one vital campaign pledge that’s also jobs-related, ending deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), Trump has been disappointingly silent. During his August Phoenix immigration speech, Trump unambiguously stated that his new administration “will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal immigrant amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the Constitution….” While DACA went into effect, the Supreme Court blocked Obama’s second legalization action, called DAPA, for DACA parents.
Under President Obama’s 2012 executive action, about 750,000 DACAs received temporary employment authorization, Social Security numbers and other affirmative benefits, including state-issued driver’s licenses. The DACAs also were granted temporary protection from deportation.
But recent comments about DACA from Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus indicated that while Obama’s executive action may indeed eventually be canceled, it probably won’t happen in the first 100 days. Spicer told reporters that, on immigration, the priority is on deporting criminal aliens, and “then we’re going to continue to work through the entire number of folks that are here illegally.” Removing two to three million criminal aliens could take years. In other words, DACAs aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
Priebus sounded an ever more alarming note when he told Fox News that the administration plans to work with the House and Senate toward a goal of getting a long-term DACA solution. Enforcement advocates interpret Priebus’ message as a possible reference to a new bill, the Bridge Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) that Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Il) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced to give DACAs legal status. Or maybe Priebus has in mind the proposed “immigration overhaul” of Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), as he called it, that would give amnesty and a path to citizenship to 12 million illegal immigrants.
If Trump and Priebus are waiting for Congress, they’ll have a long wait. Durbin and Graham were Gang of Eight architects, and Tillis’ proposal is identical to that failed legislation. Good luck getting a congressional immigration consensus. Nothing is more contentious in Congress than immigration.
The question remains: why is Trump reneging on one of his major campaign pledges to end DACA when he could convert on it in seconds by ordering U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees DACA, to end the program immediately?
USCIS confirmed that every day the agency processes an average of 140 new DACA applications and 690 renewals. That means about 800 employment-authorized illegal immigrant job seekers join or rejoin the labor force every day, a reality that’s inconsistent with Trump’s two dominant campaign promises: restoring American jobs and enforcing immigration laws.
Here’s the way Trump’s base feels about his apparent disregard for his vow to end DACA. If Trump had campaigned on extending Obama’s unconstitutional DACA program that circumvented Congress and displaces American workers, Hillary Clinton would be sitting in the White House.