Prior to President Obama implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he said he had no constitutional authority to act. He did it anyway and also a similar program for the parents of those children. DACA children, often called Dreamers, are illegal aliens. Their parents brought them to this country, often as children, and they know no other home.
Since President Bush first brought up the subject in 2005, Congress has been grappling with what to do with illegal immigrants and their children. Neither side has wanted to finalize a solution. Republicans could not in 2005 because they had no consensus on what to do. Democrats, when they controlled everything in 2009, could have done something, but they preferred to let the issue fester, believing it would help them politically. They focused on screwing up the American health care system instead.
Congress is now considering a proposal to deal with the issue. President Trump cancelled the DACA program, telling Congress it had to deal with the issue. A liberal judge in San Francisco has ordered the president to continue the program. No credible legal scholar thinks a judge has the power to do that. There are well settled constitutional principles that a future president is not bound by the executive actions of his predecessors. But liberals are going to advance their agenda however they can.
Back in Washington, where decisions must actually be made, a "Gang of Six" has formed. This bipartisan gang intends to give Dreamers citizenship, let their parents stay without citizenship, increase border security and alter the visa lottery program. The president wants to break chain migration, and the details are still sketchy regarding whether that will actually happen. Chain migration, a term you will hear more about, is an immigration scheme in the United States where whole families can immigrate here. It used to be that children of adults could come. Then, the parents of parents could come. The other children of the parents' parents could come. Their kids could come. Soon, entire family trees were moving here, having not rooted here.
Part of Washington's problem is that legislators, lobbyists and congressional staffers feel compelled to complicate everything. Why do something in 10 pages when 1,000 will work? Why do something in 1,000 pages that 2,000 could more thoroughly complicate? The result of this is an increasingly complex government, increased power in the hands of bureaucrats, and richer lobbyists. Meanwhile, both the legislator and the citizen have a harder time figuring out what is going on.
There is a real consensus in Washington to let Dreamers stay in the country. So let them. Take that issue off the table. We can deal with citizenship later and whether they should be required to serve in the military or get a college degree. We can let the several states decide per state whether to let Dreamers qualify for state benefits. Congress does not need to address those issues right now. Just take deportation off the table.
There are several factors at work making this issue a mess. The first is political. Both parties believe Hispanic voters are up for grabs and, in the Age of Trump, Democrats have a lot of evidence that these voters will go their way. They want citizenship for Dreamers and their parents immediately so they can get new voters. Republicans, on the other hand, are slow walking that issue for some of the same electoral issues.
Another issue is incentives. If we do not secure the border, how likely we are to get a flood of people coming across the border where we have to deal with this again? It seems if we have an insecure border (and we do), people will come claiming to qualify. And who is to tell them no?
The consensus in Washington is to let the Dreamers stay. The GOP would be wise to take that off the table. But Washington will leave no complication off the table. There must be fight for the cameras. So we may still be arguing about this a decade from now.