As is often overlooked in the biased, mainstream political discussion about the president’s DACA decision, the problem with Obama’s executive order on childhood arrivals is twofold. One, it was an unconstitutional power grab by a president who enjoyed using his “pen and phone” to sidestep Congress and essentially make law from the confines of the Oval Office. Two, it sent the wrong message to would-be illegal immigrants: As long as you behave in a certain way after arriving in the U.S., you too could be eligible for amnesty as long as you have a sympathetic liberal in the White House. There can be no doubt that Obama’s DACA decree contributed to the overwhelming surge of illegal immigration we saw in the years after.
By eliminating the DACA program last week, President Trump remedied the first problem. He was advised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the order was indefensible in court, and he was facing a legal challenge by the same states that managed to put DAPA – Obama’s later immigration order – on ice. Faced with the unenviable position of defending an executive order that went against everything his campaign was about, Trump had little choice but to scrap the program and restore the constitutional boundaries of the executive branch.
But now there’s that second problem. Yes, Congress and Trump are talking up the eager possibility of passing some kind of DACA-like legislation into law, but while that would at least put us back on solid constitutional ground, it doesn’t do anything to address the specific, underlying problem of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. And that’s what many conservatives are sounding the alarm about this week.
In an interview with CBS, Sen. Tom Cotton said it would be a mistake to implement the kind of “immigration reform” the president and many Republican leaders have been talking about.
“It is going to open up a whole new category of people who could get legal status, namely their parents who violated the law by bringing them here, and it’s going to encourage other people to bring their children across the border in the future, which is a very dangerous thing to do,” Cotton said.
But even if we take the “dangling carrot” argument off the table, the potential for a DACE-esque piece of legislation to cost American taxpayers enormously cannot be ignored. Because while Obama’s order only covered 800,000 illegal immigrants, there’s no telling how many more would be shoved into the situation by overeager Democrats (and, frankly, plenty of rank-and-file Republicans). We could be looking at a scenario where amnesty is extended to nearly 3 million young arrivals, a watershed moment that would undoubtedly encourage immigration activists to pursue a broader amnesty law.
By any reckoning, this is NOT what Trump’s voters want, and it is NOT what this country needs in terms of expense, legality, or future immigration law.
We’re glad to see Obama’s unconstitutional order off the books, but that’s not the end of the debate. At least, we hope it isn’t.