The Editorial Board – New York Times.
President Trump didn’t even have the guts to do the job himself. Instead, he hid in the shadows and sent his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to do the dirty work of telling the country that the administration would no longer shield from deportation 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.
Mr. Sessions, a longtime anti-immigrant hard-liner, was more than up to the task. In a short, disingenuous speech, he said a program set up by President Barack Obama in 2012 — known as DACA, for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — was a lawless policy that “yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of American citizens. (Mr. Trump echoed these claims in a statement released by the White House.) Mr. Sessions called DACA “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” and said “failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism.”
False, false, false and false.
DACA recipients are not threats to public safety or national security; to the contrary, they must have a nearly spotless record to be eligible in the first place. They do not receive legal status in this country, only a two-year, renewable deferral of deportation along with a work permit and eligibility for other government benefits down the road. And they are not taking jobs from native-born Americans, whose declining levels of employment can be chalked up to other factors.
As for the policy’s legality, there’s no question that the president has the authority to set immigration-enforcement priorities. Presidents of both parties have done that for decades, and President Obama did it by focusing on people with criminal records and not on those brought to this country as children. For most of this latter group, the United States is the only home they’ve ever known. About 9 in 10 are working taxpayers, and deporting them could reduce the gross domestic product by over $400 billion over the next decade.
In short, DACA is morally right, legally sound and fiscally smart policy. It was also the only humane choice Mr. Obama had in the face of Congress’s failure to pass any meaningful immigration reform in the last two decades.
If all that weren’t enough, DACA remains overwhelmingly popular among Americans of all political stripes. Polls put its approval rating at roughly double that of President Trump himself. Even the Chamber of Commerce, usually a reliable backer of the Republican legislative agenda, called the decision to end DACA “contrary to fundamental American principles.”
The only bad thing that could be said about DACA is that, because it was a presidential memorandum, it was always vulnerable to being undone by a shortsighted administration playing to its base.
Now that that has happened, 800,000 people — all of whom gave their personal information and immigration status to the government, believing it would not be used against them — face the prospect of being shipped back to a country they may have no connection to or even remember.
This wouldn’t be a concern if Congress had done its job and passed the Dream Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for people brought to this country as children, and which has kicked around Capitol Hill for 16 years. Even though it has been stymied mainly by Republican opposition at every turn, it’s still theoretically on the table. But there’s little sign the dwindling Republican moderates in Congress have the stomach to confront their party’s nativist core. Mr. Trump called on Congress to act, but didn’t have the courage to tell it what he wanted it to do.
Contrast that with President Obama’s willingness to defend a policy that has always had detractors. “Ultimately, this is about basic decency,” Mr. Obama wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated.”
Mr. Trump has no good rejoinder. That’s partly because there isn’t one and partly because, as is so often the case, he doesn’t fully understand the scope of what he’s done. One would hope that the widespread outrage at Tuesday’s announcement, and the impending suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who’ve done nothing but try to become contributing members of society, might impress it upon him.