The Trump administration on Tuesday announced the “orderly wind down” of the Obama-era program that gave a deportation reprieve to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children – putting pressure on Congress to come up with a legislative alternative.
The Department of Homeland Security formally rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, with a six-month delay for current recipients. According to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke, the interval is meant to give Congress “time to deliver on appropriate legislative solutions.”
“However, I want to be clear that no new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on,” Duke said in a written statement.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking to reporters, blasted the Obama administration's "disrespect for the legislative process" in enacting the 2012 policy. He said the “unilateral executive amnesty” probably would have been blocked by the courts anyway.
“The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions,” Sessions said, blaming the policy for the recent “surge” at the border. “Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.”
A day earlier, Sessions sent Duke a letter with his legal determination that the 2012 executive action was unconstitutional.
The Trump administration was facing a Tuesday deadline to make a decision on DACA or face legal action by Republican state AGs who hoped to force the president’s hand in discontinuing the program.
Administration officials cast their approach Tuesday at the least disruptive option.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump had promised to terminate DACA, though he appeared to soften his stance since taking office. In ending the program with a six-month delay, Trump put the onus on Congress to pass a legislative fix.
According to DHS, no current beneficiaries will be impacted before March 5, 2018.
“Congress, get ready to do your job - DACA!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
In this Aug. 15, 2017, file photo, a woman holds up a signs in support of the Obama administration program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, during an immigration reform rally at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
While some Republicans support the goals of the DACA program, many opposed the use of executive action to institute it, describing the move as a presidential overreach.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is among those who now supports the call to protect so-called “Dreamers” with legislation.
“I have always believed DACA was a presidential overreach,” he said in a statement. "However, I equally understand the plight of the Dream Act kids who -- for all practical purposes know no country other than America. If President Trump makes this decision we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma.”
On a conference call, administration officials said Tuesday they are still prioritizing criminal aliens for deportation. But they described the original DACA criteria as very broad and cited the legal determination of the Justice Department.
During the presidential campaign, Trump referred to DACA as “illegal amnesty.” However, he seemed to edge away from that stance in April when he told the Associated Press that DACA recipients could “rest easy.”
The DACA program was formed through executive action by former President Barack Obama in 2012, allowing recipients to get a deportation reprieve – and work permits – for a two-year period subject to renewal. Under the program, individuals were able to request DACA status if they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, came to the U.S. before turning 16 and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Individuals must also have a high school diploma, GED certification, been honorably discharged from the military or still be in school. Recipients cannot have a criminal record.
Congress had been considering legislation to shield young illegal immigrants from deportation for years, dating back to the George W. Bush administration. Lawmakers tried again to pass a bill during the Obama administration, but couldn’t muster the votes amid flagging Republican support before Obama formed the program in 2012.
Nearly 800,000 undocumented youth are currently under the program's umbrella.
On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he supported a legislative solution to protect undocumented minors, but also urged the president to reconsider scrapping DACA.
"I actually don't think he should do that and I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix," Ryan said on radio station WCLO.
President Trump Has a Clear Choice When It Comes to a DACA Amnesty
With the talk of yet another amnesty, which would be the eighth since 1986 and could be the largest ever, Congressional leaders are once again refusing to cut the number of green cards handed out every year.
Paul Ryan’s “compromise bill,” a sop to corporate lobbyists, would amnesty several million people, with subsequent amnesties inevitably to follow, while promising “border security” down the road. It would be up to future Congresses and Presidents to follow through on that promise.
That mandatory E-Verify is not part of Ryan’s amnesty bill proves that he and those who go along with him are not serious about ending illegal immigration and have no intention of ever holding criminal employers to account. E-Verify is overwhelmingly popular with the American people, and it is extremely effective. The former reason is why Rep Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) included it in his DACA bill. The latter is why Ryan left it out of his. The Speaker sides with employers who want to continue to hire illegal aliens in order to tamp down wages and working conditions in the United States.
The Ryan bill does eliminate some family-based chain migration categories, but it reallocates some of those visas to employment-based and puts other into what they are calling an “escrow” account. Also put in escrow are Diversity Lottery visas. This allows Ryan to claim that his bill eliminates the visa lottery and chain migration, while he is merely delaying handing them out. These green cards will go to amnestied aliens and children of certain guest workers. After all “eligible” aliens receive green cards, the escrow visa program will end, which will take 20 to 30 years, at least.
There will be $25 billion appropriated for border security, which includes funding for barriers. We’ve seen this ruse before. The Hoeven-Corker amendment pledged $30 billion for border security in order to win passage of the Gang of Eight bill through the Senate. Maybe all of the $25 billion for border security in Ryan’s bill will be spent accordingly and Trump will get his wall, but anyone who has been around Washington, D.C. for any length of time knows that almost certainly will not happen. Whether the wall is built or not, the amnesty is permanent.
President Trump Can Stand with the American People, Or He Can Side with K Street
President Trump changed the political dynamics on immigration in Washington, but candidates have been running on his immigration platform for the past three decades. The difference with Trump is that he is threatening to follow through on the promises he made on the campaign trail. It is difficult to believe now, but Barack Obama took the “hard line” on immigration when he emerged as a Presidential candidate in 2006. In office, President Obama made it his priority to use immigration to increase the economic and political power of the very narrow special interests he promised to eschew. He championed the Gang of Eight bill, which the Congressional Budget Office (p. 3) projected would reduce average earnings of American workers for two decades. And, he violated the law and the Constitution by establishing DACA after repeatedly admitting he did not have the authority to do so.
Donald J. Trump is President of the United States because of the American people are dissatisfied with federal immigration policy. President Trump has the choice to support legislation that would align with the strong majority of voters, or he can sign a bill that reneges on his promise to the American people.
It is clear that President Trump wants to sign an amnesty for DACA recipients. Many of those who voted for him will still support him if he does. What will anger the electorate is if President Trump does not do as much for the American people as he does for the illegal aliens who will benefit from amnesty.
Will President Trump sign a bill written by the authors of the Gang of Eight, and then gloat that he was able to sign an immigration bill President Obama wanted but could not get?
The Economy Is Better, But Far From Good
President Trump should get credit for the uptick in the economy that has occurred since his election. He should also recognize that he needs to do more to reverse a trend that won’t be reversed by tweets, or by signing a bill that has Paul Ryan’s imprimatur.
President Trump surprised many pundits by winning in Wisconsin, a state that has seen an increase in poverty despite “job growth.” Paul Ryan’s amnesty bill promises to cut immigration maybe in 30 years. How would that help workers in Wisconsin today?
The people who are pushing for mass immigration freely admit why they are doing so. Warren Buffet, who claims there is a “shortage of workers,” was asked whether it would be easier for his companies to attract workers if he raised wages for his employees. His answer:
Well, the people that [sic] are thinking about going into those jobs want to get it solved probably by higher wages [laughs] but the market system works towards solving problems like that. But it is absolutely true now that there are shortages of people in some fairly important type jobs.
What Buffet claims is absolutely false. A shortage of workers means just that –- a lack of people available to work. Buffett and Ryan prefer to create a labor market system that results in poverty wages for those doing “some fairly important type jobs.” There is a shortage of employers willing to pay a living wage. Here is a quote from former Vice-President Joe Biden’s chief economic advisor, onam Bernstein, demonstrating again that there is a broad center on immigration:
Employers are very quick to raise the specter of a labor shortage, but often it’s another way of saying they can’t find the workers they want at the price they’re paying…they are unwilling to meet the price signal the market is sending, so they seek help in the form of a spigot like immigration.
And this from President Clinton’s Labor Secretary, Robert Reich:
It should be noted that the term ‘labor shortage’ rarely means that workers cannot be found at any price. Its real meaning is that desired workers cannot be found at the price that employers and customers wish to pay.
What is Trump’s plan to deal with the effects of automation, which is already displacing workers in the fast food industry? How is he going to reverse the trend of a decreasing labor force participation rate? Will he follow Buffett’s advice and let the “market system” solve these problems?
The market system does not choose to use immigration policy to drive down the wages and working conditions for American workers. That’s a choice made by those who make immigration policy. What choice will President Trump make?
Paul Ryan chose not to include E-Verify or any actual cuts to immigration in his bill. President Trump has a clear choice about which bill can he sign.
ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA
Call your representatives
Call the White House.
"President Trump is breaking his most important campaign promise by telling Congress he will sign any bill containing Amnesty for millions of illegals. Both these bills being voted on in Congress this week are AMNESTY! Tell President Trump to STOP SUPPORTING AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS!"
2. Call House Speaker Paul Ryan (202) 225-3031 and his political heir Rep. Kevin McCarthy (202) 225-2915 to say...
"Stop supporting bills with fake promises of enforcement to try to pass AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS. BOTH OF THESE BILLS ARE AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS THAT MOST AMERICANS REJECT!"
3. Call Freedom Caucus director Rep. Mark Meadows and tell him...
"North Carolina is a very conservative state that is upset that Rep. Meadows is fighting hard for illegal aliens instead of his own US citizens. Meadows should STOP SUPPORTING AMNESTY FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS