It’s all kabuki theater.
One of the most frustrating aspects of the current debate over President Trump’s revocation of President Obama’s executive amnesty is that it’s a debate over nothing. It’s partisanship over nothing.
Here are the positions of the main players in this debate.
President Trump: He felt he had to get rid of the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in order to please his base — but he obviously doesn’t want to deport the so-called DREAMers. He says he has “heart” for them, and that he wants Congress to immediately enshrine DACA as law, and that his administration isn’t interested in deporting mass numbers of DREAMers anyway:
So Trump’s position seems to be that DACA can’t exist as an executive amnesty, but Congress should pass it so he can sign it, or he could reinstate it as an executive amnesty.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions: DACA must go, because it is illegal. Also, the Department of Justice still hasn’t thrown out the Obama-era DOJ opinion that it isn’t unconstitutional, and President Trump has already referenced the possibility of reinstating DACA in six months if Congress does nothing.
Congressional Republicans: They campaigned on the promise that they would do away with DACA. Now half of them are angry that Trump dumped DACA, the other half are angry that Trump wants them to pass DACA, and all of them are angry that Trump is forcing Congress to take up DACA. But they mostly agree with DACA’s policy, and aren’t interested in deporting even a substantial number of the 800,000 DREAMers. They are afraid, however, that they’ll be primaried if they go along with Trump’s gambit to avoid personal responsibility for DACA’s reinstatement.
Trump’s Base: Some of them, like Ann Coulter, are intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that Trump is dumping them on the side of the road. But many of Trump’s supporters state that Trump is doing the right thing — he’s standing up for the Constitution! That, of course, is moving the goal posts pretty significantly. If Trump had pledged to get rid of DAA only to reinstate it legislatively during the campaign, he wouldn’t have been nearly the most far-right candidate on the issue.
Democrats: Democrats know that Obama’s executive amnesty wasn’t legal; even Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has said as much. Hell, Obama said as much repeatedly during his presidency. And Democrats didn’t care enough about the DREAMers to formalize any arrangement from 2009-2011, when they controlled Congress. Nonetheless, they’re bitching endlessly about Trump’s move, even though they agree with Congressional Republicans and Trump about reinstating DACA. They won’t work with Republicans to move the ball forward. They don’t want to give Trump any sort of win.
All of this is dishonest. Democrats used DREAMers as political pawns. For years. Republicans used rejection of DREAMers to lie to their base, all the while assuring DREAMers they wouldn’t be deported. For years. All of this is disingenuous and gross. It’s a bunch of political actors trying to make hay off of a bad situation on the ground, without regard for the fact that there’s broad agreement on policy. As usual.