By Joe Guzzardi
September 5, 2017
If President Trump had done what candidate Trump promised repeatedly to do about deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), then the current commotion would never have had a chance to develop. Had President Trump, as he vowed to do, ended DACA “on day one,” then immigration advocates wouldn’t have had time to organize, lobby and generate a sympathetic media blitz. With a one-sentence memo to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, President Trump could have scotched DACA forever. In 2012, President Obama’s memorandum to USCIS gave birth to DACA, and President Trump could have killed it the same way, a memo – over and done; let’s move on.
Instead the president lollygagged, made squishy statements about what great kids DACAs are, and how they don’t need to worry because they’re not deportation targets. President Trump’s equivocating infuriated his base that voted for him in part because of his pledge to get tough on illegal immigration and specifically to end DACA. But his hemming and hawing gave the media an opportunity to write misleading portrayals about DACA’s wonderfulness for which reporters earned A+ grades.
Today’s column is dedicated to clearing up DACA facts that the media and immigration advocates have purposely obfuscated. First, DACA was never primarily about temporary deportation protection, but instead about granting employment authorization benefits and awarding other affirmative benefits to illegal immigrants.
The Obama administration deported so few illegal immigrants – among the noncriminal population, “close to zero” were the exact words that then-acting Immigration Customs and Enforcement director John Sandweg used – that DACA fear of removal claims can’t be taken seriously. But work permits, about 800,000 in a tight labor market for unemployed and underemployed Americans, plus Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses are tangible perks that illegal immigrants aren’t entitled to.
Second, DACAs aren’t kids and they weren’t necessarily brought to the U.S. by their parents as is so often alleged. According to a review of USCIS applications, the median DACA age is 26, and the program’s automatic two-year renewals can push applicant ages into the mid-30s. Furthermore, in scrutinizing USCIS guidelines, there is no mention of method of entry to qualify for DACAs, and there is no specific requirement of entry with parents. DACAs could have entered illegally under their own power as millions of other deportable aliens have done.
Third, in any sampling of 800,000 subjects, good eggs will be found. That’s true of the DACAs. But the DACAs have criminals among them, including some that have two misdemeanor convictions, possibly pled down from felonies, and others who committed identity theft, a crime. More than 50 percent of DACAs were previously employed which means they submitted stolen Social Security numbers or falsified I-9 forms.
The upshot of President Trump’s inexcusable dalliance: anti-Trump House Speaker Paul Ryan is colluding with minority House leader Nancy Pelosi, a virulent Trump-hater, for a DACA amnesty within six months, an action that the Democratic caucus wholeheartedly supports.
Disregard news reports about what analysts consider the wisdom of the White House’s DACA strategy – appeasing Democrats, reaching out to Hispanics, and tossing the hot potato to Congress to resolve. Instead ask President Trump’s 63 million pro-immigration enforcement voters their thoughts about an amnesty face slap.
Advice to President Trump: don’t come away empty-handed. No amnesty unless mandatory E-Verify is part of the bargain.