DACA was an unwise and illegal immigration policy

by Isaiah Mitchell

President Donald Trump recently rescinded the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an action that conservatives should have welcomed wholeheartedly. But in typical D.C. cowardice, certain Republicans in Congress continue to stall action on the program’s future; indeed, the allegedly proactive president himself only took non-Twitter related action after eight states threatened to sue the Trump administration over the DACA program.

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DACA has remained one of the staunchest divides between the people and the federal government, especially the executive office, for years. President Obama pushed his pet plan into reality by an overreaching executive order, even after it failed in a Democrat-controlled Congress of elected representatives. It doesn’t take a constitutional scholar like, say, Barack Obama, to classify the program as an unjust stretch of executive power— Obama said so himself before he changed his mind. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear…. for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President,” he said in 2011, one year before he went all “new year, new me” and instituted DACA unilaterally.

Even Senator Diane Feinstein agreed that DACA is on “shaky legal ground”. It is only ex post facto that supporters of the law appeal to the false democracy of polled support. That support is neither consistent depending on the poll (priority polls asking Americans to rank their views overwhelmingly show support for America-first immigration policies) nor is a proper channel for democratic procedure.

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Protesters in San Francisco on September 5, 2017.

A tempting school of thought is to disregard all of this government-of-the-people hooey as long as the law does good stuff. The illiberality of this view aside, DACA does not benefit the U.S. or even Mexico. The only groups that DACA benefits are the illegal aliens who have broken the law and the Democratic politicians who took a gamble that their votes will matter more than legal citizens’. DACA’s poster children always seem to follow the criteria of bright-eyed, innocent kids who have never known their native country and seek opportunity here.

However, the average age of affectionately-titled “Dreamers” is 25, the law does not require continuous stay in the U.S., USCIS officials were unscrupulous in their deferrals, and by February the DHS had already nabbed around 1,500 DACA recipients for gang affiliations. It is illogical to put all Dreamers into a sympathetic light. This is unfair to the Americans, represented by their congresspeople, who voted against DACA. It’s also unfair to the Dreamers who have truly worked hard and gone by the books only to be lumped in with violent criminals.

Importing economically productive and well-behaved immigrants is a good policy, but DACA did not accomplish that. It granted practical amnesty to 800,000 immigrants who really just had to be under 37 and not have too many “significant” misdemeanors. If we’re going to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants, we must be more choosy and the process should run through the established democratic channels.


Isaiah Mitchell is a sophomore studying English, French, Latin, and Linguistics at Trinity University. He is co-president of the conservative student group Tigers for Liberty.


The views expressed in this article are those of the writer. The Contemporary takes no institutional positions on matters of policy or opinion. Read the pro-DACA article in this series.


The cover photo of President Trump speaking in Springfield, Missouri is in the public domain. The photo of protesters was taken by Pax Ahimsa Gethen and is under a CC BY-SA 4.0.

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