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In astonishing fashion, the media has transformed a matter of law into a matter of hate and discrimination. The media circus has reported that the safety of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program participants is under attack and that the White House has every intention of causing distress and chaos to innocent, laborious immigrants who have no other land to call home.
As the administration bleeds political capital and cohesion with its legislative counterparts, the White House has been forced to tackle problems through its own means. Given that communication has stalled between major party leaders and President Donald Trump, executive orders are the only tool left in the administration’s arsenal. Trump’s rescindment constitutes a communication to Congress that issues within Congress’s legal domain can no longer be unconstitutionally managed by the executive branch.
In other words, Trump’s decision was drawn out of legal necessity, not out of a policy agenda. First, it must be understood that the demise of DACA was a definite and the only question was of when. DACA was a transitory measure made under the Barack Obama administration in hopes that legislation would encompass what is primarily an issue under the jurisdiction of Congress. On multiple occasions, the prior administration stated that the program could not be held indefinitely because any such reform constitutionally requires legislative action, not executive action. It would be irresponsible of any administration to make undocumented immigrants believe that their road to citizenship could be marshalled by the White House.
Congress has never granted any administration the ability to bypass the legislative process and offer amnesty on its own accord. Some protest this notion by claiming that no court has ever ruled DACA to be unconstitutional, but again nuance prevails. DACA’s counterpart, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, granted various government benefits to undocumented immigrants but was struck down by the Fifth Circuit Court.
The court ruled that the refusal of the president to enforce immigration laws does not enable it to further grant legal status and benefits. Given the legal complications, both sides must admit that regardless of their opinion on the issue, DACA does not legally nor effectively manage standing immigration laws. The onus was on Congress from the very beginning, not the president.
As such, one might ask why the administration chose abrupt action instead of communicating with lawmakers beforehand. The answer is simple: the current administration lacks the political capital necessary to push legislation through Congress. The failure of healthcare reform as well as stalled tax reform both represent the White House’s constrained position in bargaining power.
White House correspondents have confirmed that communication gaps between the president and Congressional leadership have been extended for over two weeks. The Republican Party is in ideological and communicative disarray, thus giving the administration no other option but to force Congress to tackle this issue by rescinding the program directly. Given these circumstances, the anger surrounding the administration’s decision seems far less reasonable. DACA has been deprived of the nuance it deserves because in today’s brave new world of journalism, truth no longer prevails.
Political warfare is being waged on the public to push particular agendas unrelated to the problem at hand. Even in the administration’s press release it was made clear that the executive branch would revisit the issue if necessary. Any discussion of ulterior motives to deport immigrants deserving of citizenship is baseless. But again, legal intricacies do not make headlines—as recent history has proven, divisive rhetoric surely does.
Joseph is a sophomore studying Finance at the Zicklin School of Business. He is a frequrent contributor to The Ticker.