by Erik Halvorson
Immigration reform has come to the forefront of the American political conversation after President Trump announced on Tuesday that he would rescind former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. In his statement on the issue, President Trump stated:
As President, my highest duty is to defend the American people and the Constitution of the United States of America. At the same time, I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.
For context, the DACA program was instituted by executive order on June 15th, 2012, with the stated intent of saving “dreamers” — illegal immigrants who were brought here as children — from deportation. This executive action outlined a set of guidelines which a DACA applicant was required to meet in order to be eligible for deferred action and work authorization. Basically, DACA made it much more challenging to prosecute or deport people who entered the United States illegally but had since established a life for themselves in this country.
Trump revealed later in his speech that he would give Congress six months to make substantial progress on passing comprehensive immigration reform or he would follow his presidential predecessor and act unilaterally.
There are a few reasons why this a proper and prudent move by the President. First, this action reasserts the constitutional authority designated to each branch of government. As White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed in her statement to the media, “It’s Congress’s job to legislate.” The executive branch was not intended to have, nor was it given, the authority to unilaterally create laws; it’s function in law making was to act as a check on the legislative branch, which was intended to be the origin of laws. Trump and his administration correctly made this distinction with their move on Tuesday, a move that shows a somewhat out-of-character but very much appreciated stroke of maturity by the President.
Second, President Trump’s tactful action puts much needed political pressure on Congress. In a lesson he most likely learned from Congress’s healthcare reform fiasco, Trump placed the onus on Congress to do their job and begin to make the necessary changes we the people voted them into office to do. With this move, the President showed that he is beginning to understand how to play the political game in Washington and more properly implement the agenda his supporters voted for.
Finally, not only does this move properly allocate the separation of powers but it also allows Congress to properly and comprehensively address the many issues with current immigration policy. As it relates to DACA, Congress has the opportunity to address the real problem of how to handle illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as children. People on both sides of the aisle agree with the President’s sentiment that we are not a nation interested in punishing people for the sins of their fathers; hopefully, this leads to a proper solution from Congress that allows citizenship for productive immigrants and greater safety for the American people.
As expected, the Left reacted with its typical hyperbole and moral posturing. Democrats from around the country immediately began making the emotion-driven argument in favor of DACA, calling Republicans and the President “cruel and capricious” and this action “a ticking time bomb”. Never mind the President’s statement in support of young illegal immigrants or any trust in the democratic process, leftists proved yet again they fundamentally disagree with any sort of immigration reform. Instead of taking this as an opportunity to work to streamline the process for legal immigrants or make the United States a safer place for its citizens, the Left revealed yet again their desire for lax immigration enforcement and open borders.
Republicans must not budge from this fight. Rather, they must counter emotional arguments with well articulated, reasoned ones — because logic is on their side.
President Trump and the Republican Party have an immense opportunity and responsibility in front of them. They must do what they were elected to do: fix our broken immigration system and help construct our nation of immigrants into a safer and more prosperous place for all. Although they failed this test on healthcare, let’s hope Congress can follow the President and learn from their mistakes to fulfill their campaign promises.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore