September 2nd, 2017

Trump and Ryan and DACA

So, what’s going to happen with DACA?

I’ve read a number of articles on the right recently that mull over what Trump will do—will he preserve it or won’t he?—and a bunch more about the pernicious Republicans in Congress wanting to save it.

I won’t even bother to link to most of the articles; they’re easy enough to find. But this one is fairly typical, and it ends with a familiar sentiment: “It’s time to primary these Republicans. We did not elect them to provide amnesty.”

But I recall two things from way back when DACA was announced by President Obama.

The first is that much of the GOP opposition to it was based on the fact that any such action should have come from Congress and not the executive branch. In fact, a lot of people (myself included) were pretty incensed about that:

Nearly all Republicans in the House of Representatives (along with three Democrats) voted 224-201 to defund DACA in June 2013. Lead author of the amendment Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) stated, “The point here is…the President does not have the authority to waive immigration law, nor does he have the authority to create it out of thin air, and he’s done both with these Morton memos in this respect.”[20] However, in practice Congress does not have the ability to defund DACA since the program is almost entirely funded by its own application fees rather than congressional appropriations.

Although politicians are divided on immigration issues related to DACA, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that he would honor the grants of deferred action approved under DACA until a more permanent legislation was put into place.

Under the presidency of Donald Trump, DACA has been under scrutiny, also in view of Trump’s earlier announcement during his candidacy that he intended to end that program.

Trump-supporting pundits are framing this as the GOP Congress vs. Trump (see this), with the double-crossing RINOs in Congress liking DACA and trying to stop Trump from ending it. But did Trump actually say he intended to end that program? Well, as with many issues, Trump said an awful lot of things about it (from August of 2016):

Anyone who has followed Trump knows that he’s been all over the place on immigration, both historically (pro-amnesty, pro-Dreamers) and even recently (touchback immigration, letting the “good ones” back in).

Here’s an article from December of 2016 on Trump and DACA:

President-elect Donald Trump has made many promises on immigration, including a new one Wednesday to “work something out” for the so-called Dreamers — young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump said in a Time magazine interview.

“They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Trump had routinely pledged to get rid of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, the executive action that temporarily shields young people from deportation if they are students, in the military or working, and are otherwise law-abiding.

Trump still pledges to do that. But now he’s also suggesting he would like to find some way to continue accommodating these young people in the United States.

Trump was always suggesting both things.

Which brings us to the the current GOP in Congress and their current position on DACA:

In addition to Ryan’s endorsement [for a Congressional solution rather than just an executive one], another conservative boost on Friday came from Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a staunch conservative who has in the past supported immigration reform.

“I’ve urged the President not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent, legislative solution,” Hatch said in a statement. “Like the President, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here. And that solution must come from Congress.”

According to an aide, Hatch called Trump Thursday to talk DACA. Hatch’s “focus was explaining to POTUS that rescinding now would make the situation more complicated, and Congress should take the lead on a permanent solution,” the aide said, adding: “Those talks are already happening.”

And the dread RINO Ryan has said this:

Ryan said Congress was working on a legislative fix to preserve the program.

“I actually don’t think he should do that,” Ryan said of Trump’s consideration of terminating the program. “I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.”

The idea that this is a question for Congress has long been the conservative position, but although the legions of people on the right who distrust and oppose Ryan don’t know for sure what he’s contemplating or advocating regarding DACA, they are fairly certain that he is about to support a policy that’s pretty much the same as that of Obama, and that this is a potential betrayal. It is certainly very possible they are correct.

Ryan denies it:

Ryan has long been sympathetic to the plight of Dreamers. At a CNN town hall at the beginning of the year, Ryan was asked by a young woman protected under DACA whether he wanted her deported. He said he was working with the Trump administration and seeking a “humane solution.”

“What we have to do is find a way to ensure that you can get right with the law,” the speaker told the young woman.
Nevertheless, Ryan has also voted alongside Republicans for years in efforts to strip funding from deferred action or end it, and Ryan’s office emphasized he is not supportive of the executive version of the program.

Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong emphasized after the interview: “The speaker does not agree with President Obama’s DACA overreach. He believes it is Congress’s responsibility to set immigration law.”

It’s possible that Congress will “solve” the problem by approving a program that is pretty much like Obama’s. Or Congress may refine it to make it stricter. I doubt they will make it as Draconian as many on the right would like, though, and I think that will cause (or rather, exacerbate already-existing) anger. Or DACA reform may end up like Obamacare “reform”—that is, with the GOP unwilling or unable to get together enough to pass any bill at all. If that happens, then it’s possible that Trump will act on DACA—and my guess is that his actions will be on the moderate side and won’t please the more extreme right, either. However, I don’t think Trump’s hardcore supporters will turn on him no matter what he does on this issue.

What are the bills currently under consideration by Congress? My strong suspicion is that they represent slightly tightened-up versions of Obama’s DACA, and that there will be no mass deportations of people who came here as children and have lived here since then. It might be instructive at this point to review what DACA already is, so we’re clear on what we’re talking about:

To be eligible, illegal immigrants must have entered the United States before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007, be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military, be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security. The program does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship, nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid.

In August 2012, the Migration Policy Institute estimated that as many as 1.76 million people could be eligible for DACA. Of those, 28% were under 15 and would have to wait until reaching that age to apply. In addition, roughly 20% did not meet any of the education criteria, but could become eligible by enrolling in a program before submitting their application. 74% of the eligible population was born in Mexico or Central America. Smaller proportions came from Caribbean and South America (11%), Asia (9%), and the rest of the world (6%).

Acceptance into DACA is not automatic, either, even if a person meets those requirements.

I don’t know about you, but these provisions themselves don’t upset me greatly; I was more upset about the way DACA was done through executive action. That doesn’t mean I’d be equally upset if Trump undid DACA by himself, because once something is done through executive action it ought to be possible to rescind it through executive action.

And actually, I’d prefer it was repealed (or at least restricted very greatly) by Congress. I think DACA represents a possible slippery slope to actual amnesty. Here’s a review of why Obama should not have done this through the mechanism of executive action. The piece adds some specific criticism of DACA’s provisions that points to some ways it might be tweaked to make it far better and much narrower:

The most obvious problem with DACA is that it is illegal. By unilaterally issuing work permits and deportation relief to a large class of illegal immigrants, President Obama effectively rewrote immigration law…

The second problem with DACA is that it harms working-class voters, the very people who put Trump over the top…

One might argue that many DACA recipients were already working, so it’s better if they have work permits. But giving work permits to illegal immigrants makes it possible for them to seek employment in almost any job, so the competition with less-educated natives will hit occupations that until now were mostly unaffected. Security jobs are a good example. The lobbies of all large offices and apartment buildings in America have security guards who at a minimum take the names of visitors and call police if there is a problem. These are $12- to $20-an-hour jobs that often come with benefits and that can pay even more depending on the security level. In cities across America, many of these workers are African-American men. Illegal immigrants typically cannot get such jobs because they require valid Social Security numbers and IDs and the ability to pass a background check. But with DACA, they now have these things…

Some DACA recipients do fit this sympathetic description, but the program applies to a much broader group of illegal immigrants. Based on the age and residency requirements, a 15-year-old can travel to the U.S. illegally, stay for five years, and then receive a work permit at the age of 20. Contrary to media portrayals, applicants need not identify as Americans or demonstrate any affinity for American culture…

Put simply, DACA is not a program that carefully considers the humanitarian case for individual applicants. It is a blunt instrument that protects some who can be described as sympathetic youth as well as a less sympathetic group who are more akin to ordinary illegal immigrants…

The only way some kind of DACA-like amnesty should even be considered by Congress is in the context of reducing overall immigration levels, perhaps attached to the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, introduced in revised form yesterday by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue.

That whole article is worth reading. And surprise, surprise, it’s in the National Review.

27 Responses to “Trump and Ryan and DACA”

  1. lynndh Says:

    Are there any provisions or requirements that the individuals seek to become US citizens? If not, why not. I read that a person here for 20 yrs, got a college degree and a good job, yet has made no effort to be a US citizen. Why not?

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I have yet to see even one DACA ‘dreamer’ admit they’re here illegally, that their parents acted criminally in bringing them here and that America is under no obligation to allow them to stay and that, should they be allowed to stay it would be an act of tremendous generosity for which they would be deeply grateful. Instead, they demand their right to stay.

    This is exactly like if you came home from work one day to find a stranger in your home. The authorities tell you that you can’t evict them, that you must pay to feed, cloth and educate them. Plus, they can stay as long as they wish.

    And, that upon your death, your heirs must fully share any inheritance from you with that stranger.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    No. I’m under the impression that naturalization requires being able to prove they’re here legally.

    If so, until they gain a “path to citizenship” dreamers can’t become citizens.

    Democrats and RINOs are sending the message that being a party to breaking the law carries no consequence. In fact, it’s rewarded.

  4. Ymar Sakar Says:

    Democrats can still vote even if they aren’t citizens. After all, that requires being alive first.

  5. Dave Says:

    Create a 2nd type of citizenship that these pardoned illegal immigrants will get every single right everyone else enjoy,except voting. That will solve all the illegal immigration problems in the country while destroying any incentives for democrats to manufacture more illegal immigration problems in the future.

  6. Matt_SE Says:

    However, I don’t think Trump’s hardcore supporters will turn on him no matter what he does on this issue.

    There are some Kool-Aid drinkers supporting Trump, but there are many more people who have limits. IMO, one of those limits is illegal immigration. If Trump allows DACA or pushes some form of amnesty, his base will not just accept it meekly.

    Trump knows his customers; that’s why he’s even pushing this knowing that the GOPe hates it (and possibly despite his own feelings). It may also be an internal negotiating tactic between Trump and the GOPe, with Trump trying to obtain leverage.

    Anyway, I don’t think his base will accept a sellout.

  7. Matt_SE Says:

    Dave Says:

    Create a 2nd type of citizenship that these pardoned illegal immigrants will get every single right everyone else enjoy,except voting.

    That was already considered years ago, and the reasonable outcome would be that SCOTUS strikes down laws making people into “second-class” citizens.
    SCOTUS would then likely just make them citizens (or force Congress to make them citizens by tying their hands, like SCOTUS usually does).

    This *seems* like a clever compromise only on the surface. It would almost immediately turn into amnesty.

  8. Yancey Ward Says:

    The proper decision is to end the program with the message to Congress that if they can craft legislation to reproduce it legally, and with broad bipartisan support, then Trump will sign it. If it is only a handful of Republicans voting for such legislation, then Trump should veto it- the wishes of his voters do matter here.

  9. The Other Chuck Says:

    GB, did the “Dreamers” knowingly break the law or did their parents?
    (Ezekiel 18:20)–“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”

  10. Mike K Says:

    I anticipate a deal. Legalize some segment of the DACA group in return for funding the wall. It sounds like Trump and would make Ryanos choose.

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    The parents broke the law and in doing so made of their children lawbreakers as well. It’s their presense not their intent that violates the law.

    If I steal something of great value and later leave it to my heir… but afterwards the theft comes to light, does my heir retain rightful possession?

  12. Frog Says:

    An unacceptable, unconstitutional Obama EO, of which there are many, should be undone by a Trump EO as a matter of course.
    The Congress can then have at it.
    Trump can, like Barack Hussein, always veto, in this case vetoing a legislative product that is fluff instead of substance.

  13. Stubbs Says:

    Trump will get a lot of negative press if he throws them out. He should use this burning desire the left has to grant them amnesty as a chip for stricter overall laws going forward. Long term we need to get rid of birthright citizenship. It encourages illegal immigration. A nurse in a hospital about a mile from where I sit right now said Mexican women in labor show up at their door still grasping a map from the border to the front door of the hospital.

  14. Frog Says:

    Stubbs: why worry about the Obamaite media? An Obama EO can and should be overturned by a Trump EO. Then the peoples’ representatives can deal with the thorny issue, and if their law is hollow, Trump can veto it. Period.
    Of course we need to get rid of birthright citizenship, a de facto, not de jure ‘right’ as best I understand it..

  15. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    I am not an American so I make no comment upon the rights and wrongs of DACA and the rescinding of Executive Orders since they are domestic issues and it is not my place to comment other than to wish you good luck with that.

    However, as a citizen of the west I have an interest in the US body politic staying healthy and stable so I offer up the following observation, which should hardly need repeating:

    Candidate Donald Trump, as he then was, inspired and thoroughly energised a huge portion of the American people during the primary and general campaigns by campaigning, almost alone among the field, on two main planks in particular: returning order and sanity to immigration and border policy by making them serve American interests first; and putting the forgotten class of Americans back to work.

    Almost alone of that very strong Republican field, and in the General against Hillary, (who was caught telling an audience of elites that despite what she was telling the rubes, she really favors a border-less world), Trump spoke up for the white working and middle classes living now in towns where their old industrial and commercial hubs have been hollowed-out through the offshoring of their former jobs.

    These people had to watch as their spouses and children and neighbors fruitlessly sought work that just didn’t exist while they wrestled with the problems that always attend systemic unemployment: climbing divorce rates, chronic ill health, record levels of opioid addiction and even, in a first for your country and the wstern world, a fall in average life expectancy for whites.

    It was bad enough that these things were going on – but what really galls most reasonable people is that no-one in power even bothered to acknowledge or lament it, let alone try to fix it.

    Despite not rioting in the streets in response or victimising immigrants, when any member of the white working and middle class did publicly question why a country that simply does not need any more unskilled workers was yet governed by a class that is intent on importing millions more of such people each year they were slapped down as racists and Nazis.

    People turned to Trump for this reason and no other than that he promised to make border and immigration law serve America’s interests alone and to put Americans back to work.

    This is the how and why and the only reason why such an unlikely candidate was able to prevail against not just the opposition of the best field of Republicans in many cycles, but also against the dauntingly ruthless and well funded Clinton machine, the media, academe, big business and the deep state, his own party’s leadership, its own commentariat and its own press.

    Trump simply must keep faith with the spirit of those twin planks. They were not vague “non-core” promises but essential planks of his bargain with his voters.

    If he does not, or if he is perceived to break faith, then the people he energised to turn out for him will simply stay home in 2020 just as they did with McCain and Romney – both of whom not only spoke to none of their concerns but didn’t even bother pretending to be concerned about them. They were justly ignored by the electorate whom they ignored.

    It is just so sad that the Republican establishment does not comprehend the message the white working and middle class tried to send them when they elected Trump: that everything has changed and there is no going back. Business as usual simply is not an option any more.

    I can see that from thousands of miles away, why cannot people like Ryan?

    Trump, as he does so often, summed up the DACA issue succinctly when he observed: “American kids have dreams too”.

    It is sad but sometimes one is forced to prioritise one’s own above others. That is not hatred: it is simply how life is sometimes. If you listen to Trump’s speeches on the stump you will hear him refer to only importing and keeping people “who love us”. Love of one’s own is surely a wonderful and grown-up thing. It is surely not an evil that one should be required to apologise for.

    I am not one to quote the bible often but life has taught me that there is a particularly loathesome class of person that is referred to in 1 Timothy 5: 8:

    “He who does not provide for his own, especially those of his own house, denies the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”.

    I have met such people and many are in positions of power in the west today.

  16. The Other Chuck Says:

    It is being reported that Trump has made the decision to revoke DACA but suspend it for 6 months which would allow congress to pass legislation reinstating it, which he would presumably sign. Otherwise, why the 6 month suspension? He wants to placate his base for now, and then try to blame congress for the amnesty. Should the amnesty get 2/3 support he could even veto it and pretend his hands were tied.

    Unless he immediately revokes Obama’s executive order, he isn’t fooling anyone. He can’t have it both ways.

  17. Stubbs Says:

    The left and the media would use the expulsion of DACAs to beat Trump over the head as inhumane, and that might cost him a second term. I think there is much stronger sympathy for DACAs than for illegals in general.

    Personally, I don’t like the idea of granting DACAs amnesty because it sets a bad precedent. It says to those south of us that there is a distance between what our laws call for and what we will do in fact if they just get themselves and their children on the north side of the border. But allowing them to stay would take the subject off the table and not prevent future adherence to the law as written.

    There is also a little voice in the back of my head that says Trump should demand that in return for his amnesty for DACAs the left will help fund the wall. This would put them on record as supporting the enforcement of immigration law, something that they are currently not willing to do.

  18. AesopFan Says:

    “Trump has wrestled for months with whether to do away with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA. But conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that Congress — rather than the executive branch — is responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the president to terminate the program and kick the issue to Congress, the two sources said.

    In a nod to reservations held by many lawmakers, the White House plans to delay the enforcement of the president’s decision for six months, giving Congress a window to act, according to one White House official. But a senior White House aide said that chief of staff John Kelly, who has been running the West Wing policy process on the issue, “thinks Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago.” [ hard to argue with that ]

    Trump is expected to formally make that announcement on Tuesday, and the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of the president’s decision on Sunday morning, according to a source close to the administration. Ryan had said during a radio interview on Friday that he didn’t think the president should terminate DACA, and that Congress should act on the issue.”

    So, Trump revokes an EO that everyone on the Right believes is an illegal usurpation of the legislative power (which it was), so Congress can make the decision (as it should), but Ryan thinks Trump ought to continue the usurpation so that…Congress can make the decision.

    Unless maybe Politico misquoted Ryan somehow?

    Nope. That’s what he said.

    “House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Friday he doesn’t think President Trump should end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    “I actually don’t think he should do that and I believe that this is something Congress has to fix,” Ryan told WCLO Janesville.

    Ryan added that he doesn’t believe President Barack Obama had the legal authority to institute DACA, but it’s up to Congress to fix the situation.

    President Obama did not have the legislative authority to do what he did,” said Ryan. “You can’t, as an executive, write law out of thin air.” ”

    I think my head hurts.

  19. neo-neocon Says:


    It all depends on what Ryan meant by the word *that.” He might have meant he doesn’t think Trump should make new rules about it. I don’t think it’s at all clear he meant Trump shouldn’t cancel Obama’s EO and then leave it to Congress to make up new rules.

    Ryan’s quote is ambiguous. The interpretation is Politico’s. I don’t trust their interpretation. I’d rather see a fuller quote before i decide what Ryan actually meant.

  20. The Other Chuck Says:

    Aesop, take an aspirin or stiff drink because it’s only going to get worse. Trump is going to “end” DACA but delay the rescission for 6 months, which is exactly what Ryan wants so that Congress can write a proper DACA. They need this 6 months because the last 5 years wasn’t long enough. And besides, they couldn’t write a DACA while they had a Democrat President. They needed the illegal executive order DACA in place to run against, just like they needed the ACA to run against.

  21. Elliott Says:

    Unfortuately almost all DACA applications were approved in an expedited and additionally illegal regulatory process ordered by the Obama White House. Documents obtained by identity theft, lack of supporting evidence showing continual US residency, Mexican consulate cards (a card produced in a Mexican consulate based upon literally nothing but the person who walks in with a small fee and tells the consulate what to put on it with no passport, baptismal or birth certificate, literally nothing from Mexico), no criminal background check, etc. The INS conducted an “audit” recently of a small percentage of these DACA applications and found an alarming amount of outright fraud.

    The entire “program” is a big mess. It needs to be scraped and start over if only because of fraud which is rampant with illegal aliens who are used to getting away with it.

    Are there children brought into the US at a young age who have NEVER returned to live in Mexico and don’t speak Spanish or have any ability to live in their home cultures? Yes. But the number is nowhere near 800 thousand. But they have to PROVE it and their identity and their intent to become US citizens. If not they are not qualified for what should be a very restricted class.

  22. blert Says:

    Trump has split the bet.

    He’s cancelling DACA… but with a six-month delay… obviously plenty of time for Congress to weigh in.

    A similar delay is being used by Mattis WRT transgendered troopers.

    EVERYTHING Trump campaigned for is being Slow Walked by the Deep State.

  23. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Stephen Ippolito,

    You understand America far better than many Americans.

    “I can see that from thousands of miles away, why cannot people like Ryan?”

    I’m certain that Ryan understands this perfectly well. He sees that electorate as fading from significance. It is to the Hispanic vote that he looks, as does his GOPe donor supporters…

  24. Montage Says:

    I get the argument against executive orders vs. Congress passing a law but at this stage messing around with DACA is playing politics with people’s lives. If this is the fight Trump wants he’ll have it now. Do the Republicans want it? I’m guessing not. It’s sort of a lose lose situation IMO.

  25. ConceptJunkie Says:

    Montage: It’s only a lose-lose situation if the Democrats, by which I mean the media, control the narrative. If Trump can cut through that, he can make his case and get Congress to come up with a compromise of some kind, if that’s even possible.

    I responded to try to make the case that it’s not necessarily a lose-lose situation, but seem to have argued myself into believing it’s a lose-lose situation. The only thing I keep coming back to is the people that elected Trump. They know that making our immigration just is more important than making it “fair” (for values of fair that are not defined by them).

    Whether Trump is smart enough and influential enough to make anything happen with this remains to be seen, or maybe the people who elected Trump will just have to go back to perpetually being on the losing side.

  26. AesopFan Says:

    “I’d rather see a fuller quote before i decide what Ryan actually meant.” – Neo.
    Not a bad MO for just about everything, but it’s hard to find uncut / unfiltered videos or quotes.

  27. AesopFan Says:

    IMO, one of the camel-back-breaking straws was the amount of fraud in even the “legal” immigration areas. Add the outright law-breaking, by aliens and our own government, the hypocrisy of the source nations (Mexico’s immigration enforcement is Draconian compared to ours), and the ingratitude of those who have settled in this “bigoted” nation — that they don’t want to get kicked out of — and the majority of the population reached the tipping point.

    I admit the Dreamers are the most sympathetic of the illegals (even to me), but Obama just couldn’t keep from extending his (illegal) amnesty past the core “sad cases” and into the realm of family chain sponsorship and bloated qualifications, in addition to facilitating fraud.

    Can’t remember where I saw it now, but a commenter somewhere said his tactic when arguing with open-borders advocates was to ask, if this immigration was such a crisis, why didn’t the Dem-controlled Congress pass a Dreamer act / DACA in Obama’s first term?

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