NBC News was reporting on Friday afternoon, August 25, that President Donald Trump was close to an announcement on an Obama era program benefitting individuals who arrived in the United States undocumented, as children. The program, called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” or DACA, allows such individuals who meet certain conditions to request consideration of deferred action on their status for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
Although DACA (created in June 2012) does not provide lawful status (it is an exercise of the executive branch’s prosecutorial discretion delaying any deportation), it does come with work authorization.
At the beginning of 2017, during the period of transition from one administration to the next, the Pew Research Center estimated that more than 750,000 Dreamers had received relief through the program.
DACA was not mandated by legislation. What can be accomplished by the executive order of one president can in general be unwound by the executive order of the next.
Such an order by President Trump, if it does come in coming days, will still be coming rather late from the point of view of much of his base, which sees his toughness on undocumented aliens as key to his appeal.
Left Wing View
Longtime social activist Michael Skolnick put the leftward position bluntly in a tweet:
Senator Chuck Schumer, though, was on Friday morning hoping that the “rumors” of anti-DACA action were untrue, and he tweeted this:
Jonathan Swan, writing in Axios, observed that “The Trump administration has continued to issue new permits under the program,” which may allow for some hope that Trump will back off of simply closing it down. Still, Swan said, with the program’s future unclear, “many families are confused and anxious about their futures.”
Brian Bennett, writing in the Los Angeles Times Friday afternoon, reported that officials of the Trump administration have prepared a range of actions for him. He could end the program immediately or he could phase it out over a period of two years by granting no further deferrals, and allowing those in existence to expire over that period. There are apparently other possibilities under consideration between those two, but if Bennett is right the range seems fairly narrow.
Eric Schneiderman, the State Attorney General in New York, has tweeted that “There are 41K DREAMers enrolled in DACA in New York. They are our neighbors & friends. This is their home, and we will fight for them.”
The end of DACA, if it is in fact near, could be an object lesson in the danger of trusting Authorities with personal information. The people who came forward, out of the shadows of undocumented life, to pay a fee, provide information, and subject themselves to a background check — some of them multiple times as a report in the Huffington Post reminds us – would be the ones in imminent danger of deportation.
Right Wing View
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will say nothing further about such reports except that the DACA program “continues to be under review.”
Trump promised, as a candidate, that he would end DACA on “Day One” of his presidency. Lots of Days have come and gone since Day One, and his supporters have periodically expressed their impatience.
Before the NBC report, though, it seemed to many observers that the most likely outcome was that the Trump administration would issue no order, but would work to see that the Obama order dies a quiet death in court, so that Trump’s fingerprints would not be on the dagger.
Friday afternoon, Breitbart’s Neil Munro wrote a report on the subject that for the most part simply passed along the gist of NBC News’ story. But Munro did add a reference to an unspecified “immigration expert” who supposedly has said that the “DACA amnesty numbers” can be expected to rise to 2.5 million shortly if the program continues unimpeded.
One poll shows that Republicans favor keeping DACA in place by a very large margin: 78% of those surveyed favor this course; as opposed to just 14% who oppose it (the remaining 8% have no opinion). This indicates that the range of opinion ‘on the ground’ is not what the punditocracy echo chamber might suggest.