In a move that President Trump absolutely needed to pursue in order to lock down his concerned base, senior officials inside the Trump White House leaked news that Trump would end the so-called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program “as it exists today.” DACA was the executive amnesty put into place by President Obama in 2012, and essentially forced the Department of Justice not to prosecute any illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. More specifically, as Fox News summarizes:
Individuals are able to request DACA status if they were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, came to the U.S. before turning 16 and have continuously lived in the country since June 15, 2007. Individuals must also have a high school diploma, GED certification, been honorably discharged from the military or still be in school. Recipients cannot have a criminal record.
Already, DACA has been challenged in the courts; White House chief of staff John Kellyactually told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, back when he was Homeland Security Secretary, that he hoped for a comprehensive immigration overhaul, because he didn’t think DACA would stand up to legal challenge.
The question is whether allowing DACA to “lapse,” as the Trump administration puts it, will actually launch a round of deportations for so-called DREAMers, or whether it will simply be imaging work for the Ann Coulter car of the Trump Train. Getting rid of DACA is highly popular among Republicans across the board — just last week, National Review wrote an editorial calling on Trump to dump DACA for both policy reasons and process reasons, explaining:
DACA contravenes the elementary principle that the legislative branch ought to pass laws and the executive branch ought to enforce them. … The administration should at the very least stop issuing new permits under DACA and announce a date when it will stop processing renewals. Then, the nation’s legislative body can consider legislation to deal with this population.
It’s also possible that Trump wants to use replacement of DACA as a bargaining chip to get the funding to build his wall — a clever political maneuver, to be certain, although it would leave his most hard-line devotees upset with him.
In any case, Trump’s move to end DACA is the beginning of a restoration of a rule of law. What he does next matters even more.