The Trump administration announced last week that it intended to wind down Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012. The DACA program won’t be shut down immediately; instead, the administration has given Congress six months to find a legislative solution.
Under DACA, approximately 800,000 people who entered the United States illegally as minors obtained a reprieve on deportation. Some 45 thousand applied and received permanent resident status. The beneficiaries of DACA are sometimes called Dreamers.
Unsurprisingly, Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were pummeled by the mainstream media and the Never-Trumpers, who have been in perpetual outrage since Trump took office. The Left condemned Trump for daring to enforce the law; some Never-Trumpers panned Trump for “lack of compassion” and for being “without heart.”
Before I discuss the new measures on DACA and Dreamers, here are some facts you won’t get from mainstream media.
Fact No. 1: While many Americans sympathize with their plight, Dreamers are illegal aliens in the eyes of the law. Dreamers often argue they should not be penalized because they arrived through no fault of their own. Whether this is valid or not, America is not at fault; the United States does not owe the Dreamers anything. Their presence alone does not entitle them to demand legal status, nor special treatment. Their American dream isn’t more valuable than that of native-born citizens and legal immigrants.
Fact No. 2: Dreamers owe the U.S. taxpayers, often in a big way. America is one of the most generous countries for illegal aliens, who are eligible for many welfare benefits, such as free K12 public education (including free school meal programs), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Head Start, and emergency Medicaid. In some states, public universities charge Dreamers in-state tuition. The list goes on and on. Who foots the bills? The people. According to the Heritage Foundation, illegal aliens and their families are estimated to cost American taxpayers $54.5 billion per year.
Discussions about DACA and Dreamers aren’t in good faith without establishing these facts.
Trump’s action could be described as bending the law—that is, continuing for six months a policy that is illegal—but I believe he did the right thing.
First of all, DACA was created on very dubious legal grounds. The president of the United States, being the head of the executive branch, is not supposed to legislate. Obama knew this well; before signing DACA, he said at least 22 times that he did not have the authority to amnesty Dreamers by executive order. It couldn’t be more appropriate to bring an orderly end to Obama’s blatant abuse of power with an executive order.
Additionally, Trump showed great administrative restraint, deference to the legislative branch, and compassion for Dreamers. DACA renewal applications will be accepted before Oct. 5. Despite mainstream media hysteria, there will be no nightly immigration raids, nor mass deportation. Dreamers can live and work normally in the United States. Their immigration status won’t change for at least six months, enough for Congress to take action. The president promised in a tweet that if Congress fails to find a solution, he will revisit this issue. Trump also said he did not “favor punishing (DACA) children.”
Finally, Trump’s decision to give Congress six months to find a legislative solution is politically brilliant. Congress appears to be in a never-ending stalemate. It can’t get anything done. Legalizing DACA/Dreamers is something that both parties claim to support. Now Trump has gained valuable leverage. He is in a better position to break the impasse in Congress and move his agenda forward, including the border wall.
Early signs suggest a legal, more permanent replacement for DACA is within reach. I’m cautiously optimistic about the Dreamers’ future. Many Dreamers spent their young adult lives here in America. We should give them a chance to succeed in this great country.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the Washington State Budget & Policy Center as the source of information about the educational attainments of DACA recipients. The Epoch Times regrets the error.