DACA: Something Else Trump Says He Won’t “Own”
Donald Trump passes the buck quicker than a gang of counterfeiters plays hot potato with a phony twenty during a raid by treasury agents. Round and round the buck goes and where it stops nobody knows. On North Korea, he passed leadership to China and South Korea. At the G-20 — like the cheese — he stood alone, while people with actual ideas talked with one another all around him. Never has the United States been more needed and less relevant than now.
You may remember his campaign, as much as I’d like to forget it, where he bragged about the health plan he’d come up with, which he never did. Then there was his tax reform plan, which doesn’t exist. In both those cases and more, he has passed the buck to Congress, and here we go again with DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Call it the Dreamer resolution if you will. Call it whatever you want, but what Donald Trump is doing is apparently killing it, but giving it a short reprieve because like health care and taxes, he’s giving it to Congress, telling them to do their job when he apparently has no interest in doing his. He even stuck Jeff Sessions with the job as hatchet man for DACA so all the video on the news would be from his easily-disposed-of and no longer liked attorney general, who taking the coward’s way out refused to take any questions. If Trump led from any further back he’d be like a New York Marathon runner starting that race a week late and from Los Angeles to boot, AND then running backwards into the ocean.
ABC News reports Trump said he did not want to own this decision. He made that same statement when he did not come up with any health care plan, much less anything like what he claimed he would come forward with during the campaign. Here is the commander-in-chief, the President of the United States and he doesn’t want to own any decision that might make him unpopular, failing to see that that very spinelessness is one of the qualities that HAS made him unpopular, even increasingly with his own base which is still waiting for the say anything, do anything guy they voted for.
DACA, for those of you not keeping score at home, is an Obama decision to give a break to 800,000 people who were illegally brought into this country by their parents. Mom and dad knew what they were doing and if you want to dole out responsibility you can deal with them, but what we are dealing with here are people brought in as kids, many of whom have no memory of where they came from, may barely speak the language of where they were born, know no one back there and are essentially as all-American as you can get.
What’s interesting here is that though Trump’s ever shriveling size of his fingers base loves this, his party — which castigated Obama for this because Obama — is now trying to find a way to save it. They don’t want the pictures and stories of honor students being tossed out of the country to help some other place prosper or maybe to die. Many of these kids were brought here by their parents to escape places like Honduras, which are so controlled by street gangs now that kids either have to join a gang, be killed for joining a gang by members of the other gang, or be killed for refusing to join a gang. We will be throwing some of these kids into the jaws of death.
Republicans also don’t want to do this because they know Hispanics should be a winning group for them. Staunchly Catholic, except for immigration, their social values are much more in line with the GOP on issues such as abortion. This is a group ripe for Republican Party membership, except the GOP keeps throwing them back like a fisherman who keeps throwing back thousand pound blue marlins because he told the clown in his boat what he really liked to catch was minnows.
Republicans are flailing around with strategies. Tom Cotton wants to see if he can do a deal with Democrats to protect Dreamers in exchange for paying for the wall. You know, paying for the wall someone said Mexico would pay for. Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader and Trump punching bag Mitch McConnell want to do something to save the Dreamers, but they would have appreciated this waiting for next year instead of the next few months already chockablock with tax reform, the debt ceiling, a possible umpty-umpth try at health care, a budget bill and billions for victims of Hurricane Harvey. They didn’t need something else contentious right now, much less Donald Trump’s ever expanding honey-do list of things he can’t be bothered with.
What DACA does is fairly simple. It doesn’t even create a path to citizenship which would be a job for Congress. It simply defers deportation and allows these young people to get work permits. It doesn’t deal with citizenship, which we should. Maybe you just want to create a path like, stay out of trouble for five years and you can apply. Or join the Armed Forces or Vista or some other government service for a year or two. If you’re studying to be a teacher, teach some place where no one else wants to for a while. We can work that out in our favor, though our record on this stinks.
We’ve actually deported people who have fought for this country, and not just Dreamers. There are at least 239 veterans who have been deported to some 34 countries. This is especially weird. Deported veterans can still be buried in a United States veteran’s cemetery including Arlington. They just can’t be here while they are alive.
Sessions’ defense was ridiculously flimsy, which is why he refused to take questions. He said DACA created a situation with unaccompanied minors showing up at the border in 2014, but those kids were not and are not eligible for DACA. But what credibility does Sessions have? This is the man who had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation because he lied about meeting with Russians.
Now the Dreamers situation is a total mess. Some of the work permits for these people will expire during this so-called grace period. Some may be renewed but the dreams of some 595,000 Dreamers whose permits end just after the six month reprieve period will be destroyed just because of bad timing by a president who thinks ahead as much as a lemming thinks about taking skydiving lessons. They don’t, by the way. Sad.
The sad and also revealing part of the way Trump is handling this is that once again he is trying not to handle it at all. Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman and Julie Hirschfield Davis at the New York Times report that Trump asked his aides for a way out, after being torn between loyalty to his alt-right followers who demand everything bad happen to immigrants, documented or not, and his corporate friends who were demanding a solution that let them stay. The first group has the votes. The second has the money. I’d like to say he was also torn out of sympathy for the Dreamers, but who’s zooming who on that?
Kicking it to Congress in some ways isn’t the worst idea. After all, this was their job to begin with. Obama only did something because Congress either could not do anything or just would not if it made Obama look good about anything. However, now with Trump in office, they can do something, and as with health care, Republicans in Congress have been caught off guard by winning the White House. All those years of complaining and again, they had no plan for what might happen if they actually won a presidential election.
But will they do something about DACA? Republicans remember that no less a figure than House Majority leader Eric Cantor lost his job in a GOP primary to a candidate who said Cantor was not tough enough on immigration.
Also revealing is something Mark Krikorian told the Times. Krikorian runs the Center for Immigration Studies, and basically has never met an immigrant he liked since his Armenian relatives got off the boat. He said of Trump: “He’s being pulled in a bunch of different directions, and because he doesn’t have any strong ideological anchor, or deep knowledge of the issue, he ends up sort of not knowing what to do.”
That’s friendly fire coming from someone who was doing somersaults at Trump’s election because he felt there would finally be a president who would blow out the torch on the Statue of Liberty. I mean, now that the Krikorians are all here, what’s the point of immigration, anyhow?
Krikorian is right, though, about Trump not having thought about this much, or at all. Ending the dreams of the Dreamers was just another of those things he threw out that got applause so he kept on saying it. Why this was more important than, say, concentrating on people here illegally who have committed felonies, I have no idea, and here’s the point: neither does Trump. He probably only opposed DACA because it was something Obama did, and did by executive order not because it was wrong, but Congress could not get anything done at all on immigration.
Killing DACA would mean ICE would be tied up with the 800,000 least bothersome illegal immigrants there are. While criminals get to do their thing, ICE would be set upon college campuses and workplaces where people are making a contribution to society and, yes, paying taxes. In fact, one in eight DACA recipients own a home. Some of them have started businesses and employ born and bred Americans.
Some of them are wage earners in an otherwise legal family, which means some people here legally could end up on welfare.
And DACA people are easy pickings for ICE. They are not in the underground. They are not criminals who hide from police. They filled out applications with their name, address, phone number, where they work, where they go to school and more. These people trying to be law abiding would be the first to go for the same reason some federal drug enforcement officials like going after state legal medical marijuana facilities. They’re above ground, personal information easily available since they are state licensed, and less likely to put up a fight or have weapons than a meth dealer. DACA students and workers are low hanging fruit, so why go to the trouble of tracking down gang leaders when you can easily pick off a psychology major or teacher?
And one of them was Alonso Guillen, a 31-year-old disc jockey. Born in Mexico, brought here as a minor, his family settled in Lufkin, Texas. During Hurricane Harvey, Guillen and two friends got in a boat and volunteered to rescue people from the floods. During the rescue operations, their boat was pushed by surging water into a bridge for Interstate 45. That was last Wednesday. Friday, his body was found in Cypress Creek. He had drowned, giving his life to save his fellow Texans.
Guillen’s father had asked his son not to take part in the rescues, knowing how dangerous it was, but Alonso said he wanted to help people. The father is a lawful permanent resident, but Alonso’s mother is still in Mexico across the border from Eagle Pass, waiting for her visa application to go through. Guillen’s parents did the right thing, but simply did not think to legalize their kid when they brought him in as well, thinking as the son of a legal resident he’d be legal too. Now, this DACA recipient has given his life for his fellow Americans while his mother hopes for a humanitarian exception to be made so she can at least come to Houston to bury her son.
She went to the border and asked officials if she could do that for her hero son.
They turned her away.
And the best their boss has been able to do is ask his aides for a way out of his responsibilities as president.
Makes you wonder whether we’re deporting the right people.
Subscribe to Gil Gross’ daily podcast The Gross National Podcast here: