By Joe Guzzardi
July 3, 2017
Ten states’ attorneys general, led by Texas’ Ken Paxton and joined by his peers in Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Idaho governor C.L. Otter, sent a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions urging that President Obama’s 2012 deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program be cancelled prior to September 9.
The letter requests that no new DACA permits and no new renewals be issued after that date. If the Department of Justice doesn’t comply, then Paxton will challenge DACA in the Southern District of Texas, the same court that initially blocked a similar 2014 program that proposed to give limited amnesty to the DACA recipients’ parents.
Regardless of whether the White House moves to end DACA or Paxton brings his lawsuit, President Trump will soon be rid of his DACA albatross. During his campaign, then-candidate Trump repeatedly promised to end the “unconstitutional” DACA on Day 1 of his administration. But once installed in the White House, he let DACA drag on, and finally said that those the program covers could “relax,” meaning no changes were forthcoming. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly reinforced the president’s message two months ago when he told CNN that DACAs should “rest easy.”
Perhaps more than any other unilateral, unconstitutional immigration action President Obama took, DACA was the most egregious and most infuriating to enforcement advocates. About 800,000 DACAs have received employment authorization documents, Social Security numbers and other affirmative benefits. To his voters, President Trump’s immediate and total DACA capitulation is a festering wound that he rubbed salt into by referring to the DACAs as great kids who need to be dealt with compassionately. Some DACAs may indeed be outstanding, but since individuals with three misdemeanors could qualify, and since those who worked previously used stolen identities, many of their backgrounds are blemished. DACA had little oversight. In the first month of the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security deported 43 DACAs who had criminal convictions or known gang ties.
But now, one way or another, DACA is doomed. If President Trump sits on his hands, the courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court, will uphold the attorneys general. On the other hand, if President Trump chooses to act – the recommended course to restore the faith with his disappointed voters – he can take 30 seconds to dictate a two-paragraph letter to U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services ordering it to cease granting new permits and to discontinue renewals. Just days into the Trump administration, the White House drafted an executive order that would have ended DACA, but the president declined to sign it.
Since DACA’s beginning, the program has always been described as temporarily protecting illegal immigrants from deportation. That’s true as far as it goes. But DACA’s more significant feature is the work permits that come with it. Since President Trump’s inauguration, his administration has granted employment authorization to an average of 192 new DACAs each day and renewed about 84,000 permits. As long as work permission is given to illegal immigrants, then President Trump can never fulfill his promise to the electorate that he would “hire American.”
President Trump must be silently thanking Paxton for taking him off the hook.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.