By: Thomas Moore, Contributor
On Sept. 5, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DACA
program would be repealed. President Trump claims the legislation is an overreach of executive power and must come to an end. Americans on both sides of the political spectrum have responded with outrage, others with tears, and others with protests. Not only have Democrats disagreed with the new administration’s decision, but many high ranking members of President Trump’s party, such as Paul Ryan and John McCain, have also voiced their disagreement. With so many people opposed, it is difficult to fathom why DACA is being repealed. Therefore, it seems necessary to call into question how much the general public knows about DACA, and who does or does not support the decision.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an executive order signed by former
President Barack Obama in June, 2012. The purpose is to allow some individuals who entered the country illegally to receive a renewable, two-year long deferment from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. DREAMers, who are typically referenced as the people that DACA supports, is a reference to the 2001 DREAM Act, which was a legislative proposal meant to set the standards for what people are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Only a few months after it was signed into order, DACA’s constitutionality was called
into question. Congress never officially passed the DREAM Act for that reason (this is what largely prompted President Obama to issue the executive order), under the argument that the Constitution gives Congress plenipotentiary authority over immigration, and Congress does not give the President jurisdiction to provide what some call “pseudo-amnesty” of illegal immigrants. In Nov.t of 2014, President Obama twice attempted to expand DACA, but 26 state lawsuits upheld by the Fifth circuit of appeals prevented him from doing so.
If one does research, the evidence seems to stack reasonably to show that DACA can be
qualified as unconstitutional. So then, the question becomes, is it occasionally acceptable not to uphold the Constitution? Typically, this question is answered by reflecting on American historical precedent. Look back at the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and suspended freedom of the press in an effort to save the country from tearing itself apart. However, few rational people tend to disagree with most of Lincoln’s actions. During WWII, soldiers were prevented from sharing secrets about Operation Overlord (D-Day) with their own spouses. However, that temporary suppression of freedom of speech helped win the war and defeated arguably the greatest threat to humanity the world has ever known.
Current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan seems to put it justly, “However well-
intentioned, President Obama’s DACA program was a clear abuse of executive authority, an attempt to create law out of thin air.” I can also stand with Ryan in opposing President Trump’s decision. It seems a reasonable compromise to admit that not everything is black and white. After all, according to Vox, 800,000 individuals are enrolled in the program. From an economic side of the argument, many DREAMers have a positive impact on the U.S. economy, giving large amounts of employees to corporations like Facebook and Microsoft. Even if this act is technically unconstitutional, it seems reasonable to believe it should stay in place at least until Congress can agree on something to support these people, who may rightfully be called Americans (regardless of citizenship).
Ultimately, DACA’s end was inevitable. Even former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton stated that while she would fight for DACA’s existence, she was very fearful that the Supreme Courts would easily rule it out of favor. Despite this, given the reactions of many people on all sides of the political spectrum, people seemed to give off the appearance of shock and surprise at President Trump’s decision. A reasonable number of people (though apparently not enough to actually negatively impact his approval ratings) expressed a loss of faith in the President they once supported. However, given that President Trump promised in his campaign that he would repeal DACA, it should not come as that much of a surprise. By supporting President on the campaign trail, that arguably represented a support for his end to DACA.
Fortunately, there does appear to be hope. President Trump may or may not have made
the best call when it came to rescinding DACA, but luckily we have a full six months to
implement policy that will not only benefit DREAMers of all types, but actually stand the test of time as being within the limits of the Constitution. We have strong members of Congress such as Senator John McCain and Paul Ryan who have made it a top priority to save the potential futures of many people affected by this who can help us quickly and efficiently deal with the problem. Trump’s administration can be criticized of many things, however, it has been very efficient in enacting legislation. Let us hope for the sake of all people this trend continues.