President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is unconstitutional, and has lambasted President Obama for the executive order creating the program. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeated his boss's assertions, insisting that had the issue made it before the Supreme Court, the justices would have ruled accordingly.
If that's true, why is Trump saying he'll "revisit" the issue in six months if Congress doesn't take action? Any action that was unconstitutional for Obama wouldn't be acceptable just because Trump stepped into the Oval Office.
DACA is the program that allowed the children of undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S., under certain conditions. These children, now young adults, are expected to be pursuing their education or careers, and they have to apply and pay money to stay here. Some in the Trump administration have claimed DACA is allowing "criminals" to stay in the U.S., but that's a gross mischaracterization: Those convicted of felonies, significant misdemeanors, or three or more misdemeanors of any kind, aren't eligible.
DACA has actually created a place for undocumented young people - many of whom have never lived anywhere but the U.S. - and has set them on the precise path the Trump administration claims it wants for immigrants henceforth: making significant contributions to our society and bringing their talents to bear for the benefit of themselves and the country as a whole. These people are collectively referred to as "Dreamers," because they're trying to catch a tiny slice of the "American dream" so many of us take for granted.
The irony of Trump's timing in announcing the imminent demise of DACA - and then, as usual, walking back his comments through a series of tweets - can't be lost on any but the most out-of-touch individuals. Southeast Texas is struggling to muddle through the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey. Fires continue to plague the West Coast. North Korea's Kim Jong Un is rattling his saber again, and Trump is swinging back. Tax reform is desperately needed, the infrastructure continues to crumble, and even as you read this passage, the Category 5 Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the Florida peninsula. And yet we're worried about the presence of 800,000 people hanging around in our country, trying desperately to improve their lives and earn a living wage?
Eliminating DACA isn't making Trump any new friends in the business community, and certainly not in communities of faith. The U.S. Catholic bishops released a statement calling Trump's action "reprehensible," and it's worth noting that Vice President Mike Pence is himself a practicing Catholic. About the only people that will be happy with Trump's continued attacks upon undocumented immigrants and the threat to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico are the members of his base. And the numbers of that group aren't large enough to get him re-elected.
It's possible that Trump doesn't really plan to eliminate DACA, but was trying to force Congress into action that would render the program "legal." After all, Obama wouldn't have issued the executive order if Congress hadn't kept sitting on its collective hands on immigration reform. If that's the case, he's going about it the wrong way - by continuing to denigrate his predecessor openly, while making back-door move to keep in place Obama programs that may be useful, prudent, and humane.
Maybe it's too much to ask, but Congress really does need to do something about the "dreamers," rather than let Trump send them packing. The best way to deal with "governing by tweet" is to ignore it, and to work together for the betterment of the country.
The Tahlequah Daily News