Trump tries to play good cop, bad cop with DACA
A lot of people believe in taking care of children. A lot of people believe that children aren't responsible for what their parents do.
Here in the United States, we apparently don't believe in either of those things about the most vulnerable among us. We deport 'em. President Trump told all 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program participants on September 5 that their program was coming to an end in six months. This will affect possibly three million more children as well, because children must wait until they are sixteen to apply for the program.
What a difference a generation makes. Rock-ribbed 1980s Republicans like Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., for all their faults, would never have done this. Reagan created the largest amnesty for undocumented migrants ever, arguing it was both the right thing to do and good for business. Similarly, Bush the Elder clearly spoke out against a thread of Republican politics that dehumanized undocumented workers.
Even Republican Bush the Younger (along with a group of legislators from across the political spectrum) promoted a path to citizenship for immigrant children, called the DREAM Act. It provided a path to permanent residency to children brought here without proper documentation.
Since, however, there has been a generation-long quest to target undocumented workers in a misguided attempt to shore up the white base of the Republican Party. At times, this effort has been breathtakingly racist, culminating (IN/WITH) Trump, who literally started his campaign for president by calling Mexican migrants to the United States rapists and criminals. White people rewarded Trump - 57% voting for him, while nonwhites voted against him by a whopping 74%.
Although the bill was very popular with the public, the Bush-originated DREAM Act stalled for over a decade due to that same anti-immigrant fragment of the Republican Party. As a humanitarian stopgap, Obama instituted DACA. The act promises immigrant children that if they stay out of trouble, they can study, work, and stay in the US on temporary twoyear permits which can be renewed indefinitely until Congress gets its act together.
These are good kids. 90% of them have jobs, and 25% are either currently in high school or in college. Those with criminal records need not apply.
The irony is it was that same antiimmigrant sentiment that created droves of undocumented children in the first place. Borders have become a lot harder to cross in the last two decades. Since families can no longer go "home" safely or easily like they used to do, parents have been forced to decide whether to raise their kids here or there. An astonishing two-thirds of undocumented folks have been in the U.S. for ten years or more. They've had to choose, and chose the U.S. Hence, we have a generation of younger immigrants (the average age of arrival is 6) who do not clearly remember their country of birth, and almost all speak English better than their native tongue. Most have been here more than a decade, and they are doing their best to build their lives here.
So why on earth did Trump choose this of all hills to die on, by ending the DACA program?
Trump has a recognizable pattern, possibly useful in getting his way in business negotiations, but utterly awful in trying to govern. First, he does something appalling that appeals only to his narrow base, probably around 15-20% of the US population. They get really excited about him signaling that he is "on their side" and harden their loyalty to him. But then, having lowered ethical expectations far below any previous floor, he softens just enough that compared to the new floor he established, he looks more moderate. Everyone besides his red-meat base breathes a sigh of relief that he isn't actually that bad. He then presents an alternate target to blame for any bad outcome, and attempts to come out of a situation he caused as the hero.
This is how he did that trick this time. He overturned DACA, sending in his sacrificial attorney general to announce it and deflect direct blame. Then he immediately gave us an alternate target, saying it should have been Congress fixing the problem in the first place. That's certainly true enough, but does nothing to solve the humanitarian nightmare these kids face. Obama had tidily solved that problem with DACA. Then the very next day, he tweeted that if Congress didn't do their job, he might reverse his own action. See how he magically plays bad cop and then pretends it was someone else, and turns into good cop?
At this moment, it is well worth remembering that the U.S. is verging on being a minority-majority country, which should happen in 2044, just 27 years from now.