It’s now been five years since President Obama’s extraconstitutional June 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty — which he repeatedly insisted he had no authority to grant until he did so anyway.
Donald Trump vowed on the campaign trail last year, as part of his promise to get tough on illegal immigration, that he would rescind DACA. As such, it’s both disappointing and disturbing that President Trump has not only not made good on the promise, his secretary of homeland security recently signaled that he has no intention of doing so.
That failure to end DACA was made all the more puzzling when Homeland Security chief John F. Kelly did rescind a follow-on 2014 Obama executive action earlier this month that had sought to shield millions of illegal-immigrant parents of anchor babies and others from deportation as well.
Unlike DACA, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) had never taken effect because a coalition of 26 state attorneys general fought it all the way to the Supreme Court. On June 23, 2016, the justices let an appeals court’s injunction against DAPA stand.
If only for the salutary sake of restoring the rule of law, if not for ending one of the foremost magnets drawing illegal immigrants across our southern border, the president must rescind Mr. Obama’s illegal DACA amnesty.
Mr. Trump could do so with his pen and his phone just as easily as his predecessor had initiated it.
Under DACA, illegal immigrants younger than 30 — euphemistically dubbed “Dreamers” by open-borders advocates — who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 can get serial two-year deferrals from deportation if they register with DHS and pass a background check.
To date, about 780,000 young illegals, brought to this country as children by their illegal-immigrant parents, have been approved for the program and all of the associated benefits, including work permits, Social Security cards and even earned income-tax credit welfare payments.
According to the most recent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) figures, that 780,000 figure includes 17,275 initial DACA amnesty cards in the second quarter of fiscal 2017. That’s in addition to renewing the status of more than 107,500 existing DACA youths since the first of the year.
Even allowing for the fact that some percentage of those were approved in the first 20 days of the quarter while Mr. Obama was still in office, the numbers understandably infuriated Trump voters for whom curbing illegal immigration was a top priority.
That anger was further inflamed this month when Mr. Kelly declined before a House committee to say whether he thought DACA was even legal, but in not so many words conceded that it wasn’t by making a plea for Congress to pass legislation that would effectively legalize Mr. Obama’s lawless action ex post facto.
The suspicion among critics of DACA is that it’s only the bad PR optics of deporting young adults that have kept Mr. Trump from fulfilling his promise to rescind Mr. Obama’s illegal executive amnesty.
That only serves to confirm that hard cases make for bad policy. But this de facto amnesty program needs to be phased out, regardless, because it’s now being treated like an entitlement program by its beneficiaries.
Despite DACA deportation deferrals supposedly being at the discretion of federal officials, one such “Dreamer” in Georgia whose deferral had been revoked for lying to a police officer is fighting in court to avoid deportation.
She and her ACLU lawyers are basically arguing that a revocable act of prosecutorial discretion has somehow morphed into a “right” — for a noncitizen, no less — that is enforceable by the courts.
They counted on a liberal activist federal judge appointed by Mr. Obama agreeing with them, and they weren’t disappointed. U.S. District Court Judge Mark H. Cohen ordered her deportation be halted and her work permit reinstated, and directed CIS to reconsider her case.
The ruling was said to break new ground in legal rights for illegal immigrants, suggesting they can go to court to claim that they have rights to process, if not a desired outcome. Left unexplained: How can an executive amnesty, on its face unconstitutional, confer any rights on anyone?
If that isn’t enough to prod Mr. Trump to make good on his promise to rescind DACA, that same coalition of state attorneys general should go back to court to make it go the way of DAPA.
Peter J. Parisi, a 17-year former Washington Times editor, is a freelance writer/editor in Northern Virginia.