DACA, The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was a hallmark policy of the Obama Administration aimed at controlling illegal immigration while also increasing the possibility of young immigrants becoming citizens. However, President Trump announced this past weekend that he plans to get rid of the program but will allow a 6-month delay. This announcement has both Conservatives and Trump supporters cheering him on and they have plenty of reasons to be as this is another campaign promise that he is fulfilling.
I for one also agree with President Trump on his decision and I think he should do it sooner as it could possibly be a hot button topic for debate during the 2018 mid-term elections. Time is money and I know firsthand—from my time working as an intern for a Congressman—how slow Congress can get measures in place. The official time will run maybe one to two years instead of just six months. I will argue only on the legality and effectiveness of this policy.
In politics members of the federal government need to have the question of legality in the backs of their minds when crafting legislation. DACA was illegal, as it was a policy that was drafted in multiple memos from the White House to governing agencies to draft into an executive order. Article I Section VIII Subsection III of the Constitution states, “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.” This means that Congress has the power to make and decide immigration laws and a pathway to citizenship, not the President.
Even though executive orders (EO’s) have become a tradition since Washington’s presidency, Constitutional Law scholars and lawyers all agree that they’re only constitutional as long as they don’t take or give power away from one branch of government to another. In this case, President Obama violated the Take Care Clause under Article II Section III Subsection V which states, “The President must take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Nowhere in that statement does it say that the President has the right to refuse to enforce a law by merely writing an executive order.
No matter how we look at DACA or what the consequences of establishing it or defunding it may be, the bottom line is that it violates Constitutional Law. It should have never been enforced because it was never a policy made by Congress and signed by the President. Hence this is why 26 out of 50 states have opposed either implementing the program entirely—such as Nebraska, Michigan, and Idaho who have all refused to issue legal documents such as driver licenses or have refused to allow government benefits to be given to immigrants—while others like Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona have been selective as to which government benefits and services a person can access.
This is not surprising because Paragon Insights found that in January 2015, 58 percent of registered voters opposed Obama’s executive action compared to only 36 percent who supported them. This EO not only violates Constitutional Law but violates a law already on the books. According to The Hill, “Title 8 of the U.S. Code, which makes it an offense for any person to ‘encourage or induce’ an alien to ‘come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that [entry] is or will be in violation of law.” These are only a handful out of many laws that were violated when DACA was implemented.
DACA has also not been an effective policy to curb illegal immigration. According to the University of Iowa the program is only a, “short-term Band-Aid on a larger immigration problem.” Meaning that this program doesn’t fix the main problem of illegal immigration. They also claim that the enforcement of the program was weak because as soon as a president leaves the White House, all of their executive orders are per se invalid unless the next President wishes to continue them. However, if the concern is whether or not the program has been working or has stopped illegal immigration, the answer is no. According to the Department of Homeland Security in 2014 nearly 42% of those who applied for the DACA program used forged documents to misrepresent their age, as you need to be younger than 35 and had been brought here illegally by parents, with nearly 35% of those who violated the rules of the program being accepted into it. Other factors that show this hasn’t worked are, a recent study by Arizona’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement showed that after DACA was signed illegal immigration of adults doubled from previous years and illegal immigration for minors nearly tripled, this was a factor which caused Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio to tighten border security in his state. This all comes out to an estimated 1.6 to 2.3 billion dollars that Uncle Sam must get in order to keep this program going every year. This unfortunately has been a waste of money and now the nation has suffered yet another emotional divide because of failed policies.
No matter what becomes of DACA, hopefully President Trump and possible future presidents can see that the Constitution prescribes a specific process in which laws are made and passed for a reason and it’s because of the mistakes of the last administration that this become apparent to both sides of this debate. Also hopefully both the American people and the political elite can learn that if you wish to use Executive Orders to execute your political agenda in elected office, it can be easily dismantled by the next administration.
Andrew Barness is a guest writer for The Mirror. He is a sophomore with a major in political science, and a minor in public policy.