Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, a program created by former President Obama through executive action. Accordingly, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke issued a memorandum rescinding the memo issued by then DHS Sec. Napolitano in 2012 which created DACA. As a result of this announcement, the U.S. government will no longer be accepting new DACA applications and will only process DACA renewals for a short period of time. President Trump has stated that he would like Congress to work on immigration reform and legislation regarding DREAMers, or people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The president stated that if Congress fails to act within the next 6 months, he will revisit the issue.
DACA was created in June of 2012 at the behest of President Obama after he became frustrated by Congress’ refusal to pass the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act, a bill which would set up a pathway to legal status for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, was originally introduced in 2001. It has since been introduced several more times but never passed Congress. After Congress declined to pass the DREAM Act in 2011 and 2012, President Obama directed DHS to create DACA to shield DREAMers from deportation. DACA allowed illegal immigrants to be given two year deferrals from deportation if they were brought into the U.S. when they were younger than 16 years old, were currently enrolled in school, had served in the Armed Forces, or met other criteria. According to government figures, there are currently about 740,000 DACA recipients in the U.S.
When President Obama created DACA through executive action, he did so in a way that was a blatant example of executive overreach. The executive branch enforces laws which are signed after passing Congress; it does not create the laws on its own initiative. President Obama crafting DACA through executive action because Congress would not grant him the DREAM Act was unconstitutional and a clear violation of the separation of powers. Legislating immigration reform must come from Congress, not the president’s pen. In this sense, Trump was right to rescind DACA.
However, that is not to say that the goal of DACA is wrong. Otherwise law abiding DREAMers absolutely should be protected. These are people who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were less than 16 years old through no fault of their own. For many of these children, America is the only home they have ever known. To punish these children for the crimes of their parents is absolutely crazy, cruel, and contrary to Christian, conservative, and American values. As Senator Lankford (R-OK) said, the U.S. does not “hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.” Congress must act and pass protections for these DREAMers the way it should’ve been done the first time, through the legislative process.
I fully support a forthcoming proposal by Senator Tillis (R-NC) which would allow DREAMers to earn legal status (not citizenship) if they are employed, pursuing higher education, or serve in the Armed Forces. This is a fair proposal which both Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree on. These young men and women should be allowed to earn legal status and a chance at achieving the American dream if they prove themselves to be valuable contributors through their labor, education, or service.
Conservatives should push Congress to act and pass protections for DREAMers. To sit back and allow these human beings to be subject to deportation because of something their parents made them do would not only be wrong, it would be against the principles of this nation and against the Christian principles which so many of my fellow conservatives say they hold dear.