On September 5, 2017, President Trump announced that he would in 6 months end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which was established by a directive of President Obama in 2012.
President Trump also stated that he would like Congress to step in to pass legislation to continue the DACA program. Trump stated that he didn’t think that a president had the authority to decide on not deporting the group protected by DACA, known as “Dreamers” and that only legislation passed by Congress could do that. President Trump has in the past has made inconsistent statements on DACA and Dreamers.
Although the President has stated that he didn’t think that DACA was legal, DACA hasn’t been found to be illegal by the Courts. Attorney General Erick Schneiderman of New York is leading a legal challenge to President Trump’s ending of DACA. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Mr. Schneiderman will be successful. Just as President Obama had the discretion to make a directive that Dreamers shouldn’t be deported, President Trump has the discretion to cancel that directive.
Shortly after President Trump announced the termination of DACA he met with Senators Schumer and Pelosi. Senators Schumer and Pelosi then stated that they had come to an agreement with President Trump to introduce legislation that would protect Dreamers. The next day President Trump stated that he had made no such agreement.
This leaves the matter squarely in the hands of Congress. Congress now has until March 5, 2018 to protect Dreamers from deportation. No doubt, the issue of protecting the Dreamers will be coming up much sooner than that. That is because funding for the U.S. Government will run out on December 8th unless a budget is approved before then.
The Democrats are sure to make protection of the Dreamers a condition of approving a budget. Since the Democrats are in the minority in both the House and Senate this is the best chance that they have to protect the approximate 800,000 Dreamers in risk of deportation.
Some Republicans have supported the protection of Dreamers, so hopefully Congress will actually pass legislation to protect them. However, this isn’t so simple. Many Republicans want to use this opportunity to make it easier to deport the parents of the Dreamers. Many Dreamers have stated that they don’t want the protection of legislation that will be responsible for the deportation of their parents.
At this point it is impossible to know the fate of the Dreamers. What this nation needs is comprehensive immigration legislation that legalizes the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status, that gives them a path to citizenship. We need reform of our immigration system and policies. Further, we need real enforcement of our immigration laws. You would think that this seems commonsense, however commonsense is something that is sorely lacking in Congress and currently in our President and his administration.