The past few weeks on Capitol Hill have been hectic ones as the Trump administration wrestles with a decision deciding the future of a program called DACA.
DACA, short for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”, an Obama era program that allowed people who entered the country illegally as minors to be deferred from deportation on a renewable two year period and to be eligible for a work permit. The prerequisite to apply for the program was a thorough vetting process: must have entered before applicants 16th birthday, must 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. This program does not provide a clear path to citizenship, nor does it provide healthcare or welfare to participants.
The initial reaction to DACA was one of extreme opposition from almost all of the Republican party, claiming the implementation as a gross abuse of presidential power. Many claimed former President Obama did not possess the authority to bypass immigration law and create a new program “out of thin air”.
During President Trump’s campaign trail, he expressed his strong opposition to the program and made promises to see it discontinued. His stance on the matter gained him the support of many southern Republican states, many of whom threatened to sue over the implementation of DACA.
The September 5th, deadline imposed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other state state attorneys general, forced the President to make a decision. On the day of the deadline President Trump announced that the Trump administration will indeed phase out DACA with a six month intermittent period, solidifying the opinion that the program was “an end-run around Congress” that violated “the core tenets that sustain our Republic.”. The decision was met with instant outrage across the country as masses seemed to appear out of thin air and pour into the streets to protest. Cities such as New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and even Nashville saw protests take shape following the decision.
Since then, President Trump has seemingly backtracked on his statement. The morning of September 14th, Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi announced that they were in discussions with President Trump on making a deal regarding the future of the DACA program. Later that same day Trump confirmed the news, stating that the deal would also include funding for his long promised border wall. The announcement was met with immediate outrage from conservatives and Trump’s Republican allies in congress.
A White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters told reporters “The Trump administration will not be discussing amnesty, What the Trump administration will discuss is a responsible path forward in immigration reform, that could include legal citizenship over a period of time.” All of these revelations come as complete shock to the public as DACA seemed all but doomed. President Trump has even been outspoken in defending DACA recipients tweeting they are “good, educated and accomplished young people” who “have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own”.
The coming days and weeks ahead will give us a better insight into the supposed deal being brokered in the White House and what the permanent future of DACA will be. The past of this program, its support and opposition, have been sporadic, and I fully expect the future to be more of the same.