Dipsy doo­dle

Sherbrooke Record - - EDITORIAL - Mike Mcde­vitt

Yes­ter­day, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion made the ex­pected an­nounce­ment that it would be end­ing the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals (DACA) program, es­sen­tially plac­ing some 800,000 peo­ple at risk for de­por­ta­tion from the only coun­try they have ever known. In do­ing so, Trump is de­liv­er­ing the meat to the slaver­ing xeno­phobe crowd which makes up a good por­tion of his cult, while at the same time toss­ing the ball to a dis­or­ga­nized and frac­tious Congress to deal with the bu­reau­cratic, so­cial, and eco­nomic chaos that must en­sue. He has also dropped the shadow of dread on a cat­e­gory of Amer­i­can res­i­dents that in many ways hold the fu­ture of the coun­try in the palms of their hands.

DACA be­gan with an ex­ec­u­tive or­der is­sued by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2012 in re­sponse to the tur­moil sur­round­ing the is­sue of un­doc­u­mented (il­le­gal) im­mi­grants. Particularly, it meant to pro­vide a hu­mane option for those who were il­le­gally brought to the coun­try as chil­dren by par­ents or guardians, and have been liv­ing as Amer­i­cans ever since. DACA al­lowed such ‘state­less’ in­di­vid­u­als to re­main in the coun­try, work, and at­tend school, thereby paving the way to even­tual cit­i­zen­ship.

DACA was not a gen­eral amnesty for il­le­gal im­mi­grants as pro­tec­tion un­der the law came with rel­a­tively strict con­di­tions and fees, but it did al­low its ben­e­fi­cia­ries to par­tic­i­pate safely and pos­i­tively in the so­ci­ety in which they had been brought up.

For its op­po­nents, DACA rep­re­sented the aban­don­ment of the rule of law, the re­ward­ing of il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity, and un­fair­ness to those whose en­try into the United States pro­ceeded legally and in con­form­ity with reg­u­la­tions. They ar­gue that the program un­der­mines the coun­try’s abil­ity to reg­u­late the kind and num­ber of im­mi­grants it ac­cepts and opens the door too widely.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to end the DACA program has al­ready drawn con­sid­er­able crit­i­cism from busi­ness, Congress and civil rights groups and con­dem­na­tion of the pres­i­dent has been swift, but it of­ten misses the point. Trump re­ally has no in­ten­tion of de­port­ing up to a mil­lion peo­ple and the man­ner in which the an­nounce­ment was made clearly shows that while the Pres­i­dent wants credit for ful­fill­ing a con­tentious cam­paign promise, he has no in­ten­tion of shoul­der­ing the blame for its con­se­quences.

First of all, Trump es­chewed the usual bom­bast and rhetoric with which he usu­ally ac­com­pa­nies mo­men­tous an­nounce­ments and handed the ball over to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jef­fer­son Beau­re­gard Ses­sions, proud scion of the Con­fed­er­acy and the man once de­ter­mined to be too racist to be ap­pointed a fed­eral judge. Ses­sions is an en­thu­si­as­tic pro­po­nent of DACA, as he is of the rigid en­force­ment of all laws (of which he ap­proves) and is the per­fect choice to cham­pion this po­si­tion. Sev­eral state gov­ern­ments have al­ready threat­ened to chal­lenge the le­git­i­macy of DACA in court and if the pol­icy re­mained in­tact, it would have been his re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­fend it. This de­ci­sion ab­solves him of that dis­cor­dant ad­ven­ture and frees him to un­leash the over armed and equipped en­force­ment agen­cies to ter­ror­ize young peo­ple and drive fam­i­lies un­der­ground and off the of­fi­cial grid.

When the in­evitable out­rage over the short-sighted and cruel re­ver­sal hits the fan – and it has al­ready be­gun – it will be up to law­mak­ers to deal with the prob­lem Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der dealt with after Congress proved in­ca­pable of do­ing so. In other words, it’s up to Congress to pass leg­is­la­tion to come up with a plan to which both im­mi­gra­tion hard­lin­ers and im­mi­gra­tion sup­port­ers can agree. In­ter­est­ingly, this is pre­cisely the sit­u­a­tion that ex­isted prior to DACA and Congress is pre­cisely the in­sti­tu­tion where re­spon­si­bil­ity for it is lies.

De­port­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple who had pre­vi­ously been pro­tected is not go­ing to be easy in the first place and the en­tire process is rife with op­por­tu­ni­ties for cor­rup­tion and abuse. It would have an in­cal­cu­la­ble ef­fect of lo­cal and na­tional economies as, in gen­eral, DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries (“Dream­ers”) are not the typ­i­cal mi­grant work­er­labourer stereo­type to which he was all be­come fa­mil­iar, They are for the most part typ­i­cal Amer­i­can young peo­ple – ur­ban, ed­u­cated, and pos­sess­ing of that typ­i­cal sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion am­bi­tion that has shaped Amer­i­can progress. Ma­jor, ad­vanced in­dus­tries are slam­ming the de­ci­sion and pointing out the key jobs that many of them cur­rently hold, wors­en­ing a brain drain that be­gan fol­low­ing Trump\s inau­gu­ra­tion and sub­se­quent travel bans.

It is clear that pre­vent­ing a full en­force­ment of the law with­out DACA is in ev­ery­body’s in­ter­est and the Pres­i­dent has not-so-sub­tly pro­vided a brief grace pe­riod dur­ing which he ex­pects Congress to pass suit­able leg­is­la­tion to man­age what is a so­ci­o­log­i­cal and le­gal night­mare.

We can ex­pect a vig­or­ous de­bate within the houses of Congress but this is not an as­sign­ment at which the au­gust leg­isla­tive body can af­ford to fail and un­less com­mon sense has abandoned Amer­i­can pol­i­tics en­tirely, a rea­son­able so­lu­tion can be found. This will re­quire the ac­qui­es­cence or sound de­feat of hard-line, in­tractable rightwingers (it­self not a bad re­sult) but it is a so­cial and eco­nomic im­per­a­tive.

Congress will get lit­tle credit for pass­ing leg­is­la­tion with a gun to its head and will get all the blame for its short­com­ings, but re­gard­less Trump will be able to claim a vic­tory in ful­fill­ing a cam­paign promise to his most ar­dent sup­port­ers, while blam­ing a ‘weakkneed’ Congress for its fail­ure to live up to their ex­pec­ta­tions. It ap­pears to be a win all around for the pres­i­dent, the first that be called that.

The Trump pres­i­dency has been marked by the im­pon­der­able – an ap­par­ently ill-informed ego­ma­niac in the White House, a se­cre­tive, bel­liger­ent, and frac­tious team sur­round­ing him, an ag­gres­sive and ir­re­spon­si­ble war with the press, and a se­ries of em­bar­rass­ments on the world stage have all al­lowed us to as­sume that the Don­ald doesn’t know what he’s do­ing. The prob­lem, how­ever, is not that the Pres­i­dent doesn’t know what he’s do­ing; it’s that we don’t know what he’s do­ing. We can be sure of one thing, though, he isn’t do­ing it for us.

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