Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is former President Barack Obama’s controversial program to help the minor children of undocumented immigrants, was a central target in then candidate Trump’s campaign for the White House. It was one of several programs that he said he was going to eliminate once he became President. To date, his efforts to eliminate other policies of the former administration — such as Obamacare — have been absolute disasters. He tried to do it without significant wings of his own party (both moderate and conservative) in both Houses and without any support of the Democratic party. It did not work in each of his efforts. He is now looking at DACA and is taking a surprisingly different approach — he is putting the burden on Congress to make it happen.
In the end, the Republican cowards in Congress wanted Trump to take unilateral action, which is the same kind of step that Obama took and was thoroughly condemned.
With rare exception, Trump has gotten widespread criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for his decision to require Congress to take action in six months or he would act unilaterally. The reality is, this is one of the first examples of mature and reasonable leadership yet by Trump. Trump and the GOP loathed how Obama unilaterally created DACA through executive order. Conservatives called it unconstitutional and even some liberals have seen Trump’s approach as reasonable, including professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University. In an opinion piece for The Hill, Turley argues (in an article entitled, “Don’t Slam Trump for Sending DACA Back to Congress”):
“President Trump’s expected announcement that he is terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has met with widespread criticism over the potential cost to roughly 800,000 children of undocumented parents. While I agree with the same concern over the status of these individuals, I do not agree with the same criticism of sending DACA back to Congress. DACA was unilaterally ordered by President Obama after Congress refused to approve the program.
“Some of us criticized the action as a circumvention of the legislative branch that undermined our system of the separation of powers. But because they liked the result, Democratic members yielded their institutional power to the White House and helped create an unchecked presidency.”
Congress cannot accomplish much of anything. It’s reputations of “do nothing” is strong, no matter who the president might be. However, as a betting man, I think they put together a path to citizenship that is a compromise to DACA that the President will not veto. Call it, “DACA light,” if you want. Either that, watch Trump veto it and extend the six month delay into affinity in order not to further embarrass members of his own party. If that happens, DACA will stay as is.
This possibility of a compromise bill seems reasonable in light of the fact that there is widespread support for major elements of DACA and massive disdain for its elimination entirely by the vast majority of the parties that have shown an interest in the legislation.
Labor unions, which are ostensibly in the business of protecting the jobs of average Americans, have come out for the major elements of DACA and have called for a path to citizenship. Meanwhile, on the other end of the ideological spectrum, many businesses have come out in mass in support of a bi-partisan Dream Act. Signers include the CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the US. The list includes the leaders of Accenture, Adobe Systems, AirB&B, Amazon, Best Buy, Cisco Systems, Crate and Barrel, Ebay, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Hilton, Intuit, Levi Strauss, Netflix, PepsiCo, and many others.
The construction industry, in particular, has come out aggressively in favor of DACA because of the fact that cheap foreign labor helps keep home pricing more affordable. The construction industry has long been one of the GOP’s best supporters. The party’s action against DACA would have a profoundly negative impact on the GOP’s political war chests.
In the end, the Republican cowards in Congress wanted Trump to take unilateral action, which is the same kind of step that Obama took and was thoroughly condemned. For GOP members running for reelection, they could tell voters “they had nothing to do with it” if the polling supports that position or “they were behind it 100 percent,” if it is favored. Instead, GOP members are going to either back some form of DACA light (and face serious primary opposition in the next cycle) or will vote for its demise (and take a hit from many businesses in fundraising). Either way, it is a nightmare for Republicans. My gut tells me they will pass some light version of it that Trump will support and once again this administration and its allies in Congress will fail on one of their biggest referendum issues of 2016.