Tuesday’s announcement by the Trump administration that it was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive policy has sparked outrage nationwide, much of it justifiable in terms of American values. Of all those swept up in the furor over immigration, few are more worthy of genuine sympathy and understanding than the “Dreamers” — those brought to our country illegally by parents or guardians and now Americans in every sense of the word except for the letter of the law. President Obama implemented this policy by executive order to give Congress time to decide the fate of this young population, reportedly some 800,000 strong.
For five long years now, Congress has instead passed the buck, all while complaining Obama did something unconstitutional.
There’s plenty of good reason to vent about President Trump’s decision to now scrap DACA. For one thing, it brims with the hypocrisy and inconsistency that mark his seven chaotic months in office. For instance, if DACA is unconstitutional, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed Tuesday, why then is the administration reassuring Dreamers that their DACA applications will continue to be processed? It’s either constitutional or it isn’t. And if rule of law is such a priority, how does the president’s action square with his Aug. 25 pardoning of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose use of racial profiling to harass Hispanics in Maricopa County continued even after a federal court told him to stop? Finally, as constitutional attorney Andy Pincus accurately noted in a teleconference with the press Tuesday, “DACA rests on long-established executive-branch authority — both to defer removal and to grant work authorization — that has been invoked by prior administrations, Republican and Democratic, for over 50 years.”
All that said, Trump has done one thing worthy of at least some praise: He has told a dysfunctional Republican Congress the life of this executive directive is now ticking away — and that if Congress really wants to save the concept behind DACA, then it should act now on immigration reform in toto or accept complicity in subsequent deportations. A new Politico poll suggests 76 percent of Americans, including 69 percent of Republicans, back legal status for the Dreamers.
This newspaper took some heat last winter when it defended Republican Congressman Bill Flores after he was vilified by alt-right media for his saying that, under Article I of the Constitution, Congress — and not President Trump — should craft laws, including those for immigration. We agree — and we happen to believe Flores has excellent ideas about the fate of Dreamers in America, including a path to U.S. citizenship under specific conditions. In his congressional tenure, Flores has impressed many colleagues with his leadership skills. Now is the time for him to actually lead on immigration. Yes, it will require political courage and no one will get everything he or she desires in the end. But if Flores and other GOP lawmakers are not up to this mighty challenge, then what are they doing in Washington? The irony is that President Trump may well force them into action and resolve.