Now might be a good time for President Trump to cut his losses and encourage Congress to pass legislation that would make protections for Dreamers law and put a stance behind himself and Republicans that can only cost them both in November.
And he should do so foregoing any thought of wrapping permanent DACA protections around any of his border security and immigration proposals, specifically funding of his border wall.
That ship sails farther out to sea with every court loss.
The most recent came Wednesday when a federal District Court judge in Washington, D.C., ruled against the president’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and ordered the government to resume it and even open it to new applicants.
DACA is the Obama-era program that granted relief from deportation and the ability to work legally to those who crossed the border as children under the age of 16 with their undocumented parents. To be eligible, enrollees had to be in high school or have a diploma or be a veteran who has served honorably and not have been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor. About 700,000 to 800,000 were enrolled in DACA, and an estimated 1.3 million more would be eligible under its requirements.
Of those enrolled in DACA nationwide, 18,000 to 19,000 of them are Washington state residents, and some 15,000 are employed here.
The ruling by the judge, appointed by President George W. Bush, doesn’t take effect immediately. The Department of Homeland Security has 90 days to provide more solid reasoning for a decision that the judge said was unlawful because it was “virtually unexplained.”
Good luck with that.
Ultimately, the case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, though the justices haven’t been eager to push ahead of lower courts, in February declining a request from the Trump administration to rule on the program.
The best outcome would be for Congress to act and make DACA’s provisions permanent and provide a path to citizenship for those who meet its guidelines, which is the position of one of the plaintiffs in the case brought before the D.C. judge: Washington state’s own Microsoft.
“We hope this decision will help provide new incentive for the legislative solution the country and these individuals so clearly deserve,” said Brad Smith, president of the Redmond-based software giant. “As the business community has come to appreciate, a lasting solution for the country’s Dreamers is both an economic imperative and a humanitarian necessity.”
With midterm elections approaching, time is running out for Congress — especially its Republicans — to show their support for DACA, a program that is supported by nearly 9 of 10 Americans — 87 percent — in a CBS News poll taken earlier this year.
The program does have bipartisan support in the House and Senate, although Republican leadership in each chamber has refused to allow a vote on DACA legislation. Earlier this month, nearly 50 moderate House Republicans signed onto a letter to join Democrats in seeking action on a series of immigration votes, including DACA, Roll Call reported.
The opportunity for Republicans to show that support for DACA will be further limited if Democrats win control of the House in November. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has promised that a Democratic majority in the House will act quickly not only on DACA but firearms legislation and infrastructure spending.
President Trump rescinded DACA last September, giving Congress until March to pass legislation to save it, a short time frame that — to no one’s surprise — Congress was unable to meet. Trump did so with the purpose of using the popular support for the program as a bargaining chip to win approval of funding for his wall and stricter immigration limits. When that bargain failed, Trump’s lukewarm support for “Dreamers” turned into a tweet that declared “NO MORE DACA DEAL!”
In voicing support for Dreamers, many say that they were “brought here through no fault of their own.” While that’s true, what speaks most effectively for Dreamers and their desire to become American citizens is what they’ve done on this side of the border.
A 2016 study by the Center for American Progress found that 87 percent of those in the DACA program are employed; 46 percent are enrolled in post-secondary education, including 70 percent pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher, 20 percent seeking an associate’s degree and 4 percent seeking a vocational certification. Of those attending school, 83 percent are also employed.
Those investments in education are helping local economies: 21 percent have purchased a first vehicle, 12 percent have bought their first house, and 6 percent have started their own businesses, employing themselves and others.
Raised as Americans, the Dreamers deserve the assurance that they can continue their lives and livelihoods as Americans.
Three court decisions have given Trump and congressional Republicans a second chance to make this right.