While the actual details have not yet been announced, the news media has been consistently reporting the White House position leaked to POLITICO over the Labor Day weekend that President Donald Trump has decided to punt the DACA issue to the Tea-Publican Congress. Trump has decided to end DACA, with 6-month delay:
President Donald Trump has decided to end the Obama-era program that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children, according to two sources familiar with his thinking. Senior White House aides huddled Sunday afternoon to discuss the rollout of a decision likely to ignite a political firestorm — and fulfill one of the president’s core campaign promises.
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.
Riiight. A Democratic majority Congress could not pass the DREAM Act in 2010 because of a GOP Senate filibuster, joined by five “moderate” Democratic senators (Sens. Baucaus, Hagan, Nelson, Pryor and Tester) on a vote of 55-41 (four senators not voting). Of the three GOP senators who voted for the DREAM Act, Sens. Bennet, Lugar and Murkowski, only Murkowski is still in the Senate. The DREAM Act was passed by the Democratic controlled House.
Since that time, the GOP has become even more anti-immigrant, and in 2016 was taken over by the white nationalist Trump supporters of the alt-right, exemplified by former chief stategist to the Trump campaign, Stephen Bannon.
POLITICO reports today that Fight over Dreamers to test Bannon’s juice outside the White House:
That tension could manifest itself in a conflict between his former chief strategist, and other Trump campaign supporters and Republican leaders — a fight that mirrors another immigration battle that played out four years ago.
Bannon, who has reclaimed his post at the helm of Breitbart News and believes the fight over immigration propelled Trump to the presidency, has told associates he’s prepared to take on both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over immigration this fall.
* * *
What’s less clear is what will happen if Congress fails to act during the six-month window, and the issue comes back to Trump, potentially putting the president and Bannon at odds on a core issue.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
[A] senior White House aide said that if Republican lawmakers fail to agree on a plan, he didn’t expect Trump to follow through on terminating DACA — a prospect that would test Bannon’s commitment to support his former boss from the outside.
Before Trump emerged as a political force in his own right, Bannon and Sessions worked to kill the 2013 Gang of Eight bill on immigration reform — a fight they believe set the stage for Trump’s meteoric rise in 2016.
Stephen Miller — then a senior Sessions aide and now the president’s chief domestic policy aide — wrote the Trump campaign’s immigration plan promising the termination of DACA, and has played a pivotal role inside the White House in pushing Trump to roll back the provision.
Anyone in the media delusional enough to kid themselves into believing that this Tea-Publican Congress and the Trump White House are going to pass a version of the DREAM Act is engaging in pure fantasy and are misleading the public.
The only way this Congress could pass a version of the DREAM Act is if all Democrats stand unified and enough Tea-Publicans demonstrate the moral courage to part with their party’s anti-immigrant platform, and ensure they face a primary opponent from the white natioalist Trump suporters. Moral courage is in short supply in the GOP. It’s not going to happen.
This is the one issue that will bring President Barack Obama out of his silence during the Trump administration. Obama to speak out if Trump ends DACA: “Former President Barack Obama plans to speak out if President Donald Trump declares his intention to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to a person close to Obama.”
Unfortunately, Obama speaking out on DACA will likely only exacerbate Obama Derangement Syndrome exemplified by our “Dear Leader,” Donald Trump.
Nancy Le Tourneau at the Political Animal blog asks, Why End DACA Now?
One possible answer is that 10 state attorney generals, led by Ken Paxton of Texas, wrote a letter to Sessions in late June threatening a suit to kill DACA if the president didn’t take action to end it by today, September 5th. But it’s interesting to note what would happen if Trump decided not to respond. Sessions has already made it clear that DOJ would not defend DACA in court and it is very likely that Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Neil Gorsuch, would have joined the other four conservative justices to end the program. That would have provided Republicans with the ability to say, “see, we told you, DACA was an unconstitutional reach by Obama.”
* * *
The reason all this is happening right now seems pretty clear. And it’s not because Donald Trump has been struggling with this decision. It is because Republicans want to use the Dreamers as a hostage to get something else they want in the budget negotiations. It isn’t clear yet what the ransom note will be. But there is no question about their intentions.
Kevin Drum posits that the Trump administration’s ransom will be funding for the border wall and suggests that this is simply the kind of horse-trading that happens during negotiations.
A lot of liberals are describing this as “hostage taking,” but I’m not sure that’s fair. That term is approporiate for things like threatening not to raise the debt ceiling, which would cause havoc, but not for fairly ordinary legislative maneuvering.
I respectfully disagree. “Ordinary legislative maneuvering” hasn’t usually involved taking protections away from people and then demanding something in return in order to give them back. Kevin is right that this wouldn’t cause the kind of global crisis that would come from failure to raise the debt ceiling. But that’s like suggesting that a kidnapper who only demands $1 million isn’t really a hostage taker compared to the one who demands $20 million. Does hostage taking merely depend on the level of havoc created by the ransom demand?
For the 800,000 Dreamers, these next 6 months will be havoc. Imagine what life will be like for them. By signing up for the program, they took the leap of coming out of the shadows and giving all of their personal information to the federal government—the same one that is now run by Trump and associates. We’ve all witnessed a Congress that can hardly pass a bill to name a post office. How would you feel about putting your future in their hands?
LeTourneau’s colleague at the Political Animal blog, David Atkins, is even harsher in his analysis. Trump Pulls Plug on DACA. Will He Survive the Consequences?
In the ninth month of his presidency, it seems clear that Donald Trump is motivated by little more than bigotry, narcissism, dominance posturing, and the desire to anger anyone with a sense of basic decency. Today’s reported decision to end the DACA program with only a six-month delay fits all of those criteria. But at what point does a policy of vindictive, malignant belligerence sow the seeds of its own destruction?
Trump’s DACA decision was not unexpected. As many observers (including yours truly) anticipated, Trump and his team decided to please his white supremacist base and the GOP governors and attorneys general who demanded this cruel policy rather than stand up to them. Protecting children and young adults who committed no crime beyond being brought to America at an early age by their parents is enormously popular, including among Republicans.
If Trump were a true populist, he would ride on a wave of public sentiment against his own party. But bigotry and white supremacy are core values of this administration, even if it means cratering further in public opinion. Angering liberals pleases Trump of its own accord, and watching the howls of righteous indignation from every left- and center-leaning group in the United States makes Trump and his petty, terrified supporters feel tough and powerful at the thought of armed white men deporting defenseless non-white children to a country they have never known.
But in true Trumpian fashion, the president still took a coward’s way out. Rather than simply end DACA outright or continue it outright, he is giving a six-month window to end it. This functionally means kicking the can to Congress, which will be forced to decide the issue of DACA’s renewal. This will not please Republicans in the House and Senate, most of whom know that the party’s post-Trump future with Hispanic voters depends on them distancing themselves from the barbaric cruelty of Trump and his red state attorneys general, but who also cannot afford to upset Trump’s white nationalist base. Congressional Republicans will also be dealing with a full scale revolt not just from the expected left-leaning advocacy groups and mass protests, but from corporate America as well. Just today Apple CEO Tim Cook made it clear that his company stands with the Dreamers. Expect most of the rest of corporate America to follow suit in the coming months.
But it’s even worse than that. Trump’s calculus is likely to use DACA kids as a hostage, a bargaining chip to hold against Congress in exchange for Trump’s other unpopular priorities including his border wall and tax cuts for the rich. This puts Republicans in Congress in a double bind: either support funding for a pointless and unpopular wall, or take the blame from the President and from Democrats for killing DACA.
Unless Democrats and Republicans can join together to form a veto-proof majority to enshrine protection for Dreamers into law, Trump will be able to dangle the threat of deporting 800,000 blameless people over the head of every member of Congress.
* * *
Trump may discover that political gravity does apply to him in the end. It’s impossible to predict exactly when it will happens, but disasters tend to occur very slowly–and then all at once. Trump cannot make the entire left-and-center of America believe it’s in an existential crisis of survival, make an enemy of most of corporate America, and infuriate the members of Congress even in his own party, and hope to survive. Not with all the scandals and investigations hanging over his head. Not with ever-declining approval ratings, increasingly large coalitions of powerful opponents, and and millions of angry marchers in the streets
At some point Republicans will decide he’s not worth the hassle and simply choose to be rid of him. The question is how much damage they’ll allow him to do both to the country and the Republican Party before they do what is necessary.
Matthew 19:14: But Jesus said, Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for to such belongeth the kingdom of heaven.