Trump poli­cies baf­fle im­mi­grant ad­vo­cates

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

Pres­i­dent Trump has con­founded im­mi­grant-rights ad­vo­cates, who weren’t quite sure how to re­act last week af­ter his Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary nixed a po­ten­tial de­por­ta­tion amnesty for 4 mil­lion peo­ple, but left in place the 2012 amnesty that has al­lowed nearly 800,000 Dream­ers to live and work in the coun­try free of fear of de­por­ta­tion.

While some groups said the ad­min­is­tra­tion is sow­ing fear across im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties, oth­ers said that by pre­serv­ing the 2012 pro­gram known in gov­ern­ment-speak as DACA, the pres­i­dent has made some much­needed good news.

It’s the same sit­u­a­tion that faced Mr. Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor, Pres­i­dent Obama, who also was pulled in mul­ti­ple di­rec­tions on im­mi­gra­tion, with some vo­cif­er­ous ad­vo­cates say­ing noth­ing short of a com­plete halt to de­por­ta­tions was ac­cept­able, while oth­ers sought a com­pro­mise that could pass muster with both the courts and Congress.

Now it’s Mr. Trump who’s at­tempt­ing a Solomon-like so­lu­tion, pre­serv­ing the amnesty for Dream­ers that Mr. Obama put in place, but re­vok­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent’s broader amnesty at­tempt from 2014.

“Af­ter months of sense­less and cruel threats, the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity’s de­ci­sion to main­tain DACA is a huge victory for the 800,000 young peo­ple who grew up in this coun­try and have le­gal per­mis­sion to live here,” said Steven Choi, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the New York Im­mi­gra­tion Coali­tion.

Other ad­vo­cates were far less kind.

Rep. Raul Gri­jalva, Ari­zona Demo­crat, called the pres­i­dent’s strat­egy “racist and mis­guided” and said the ad­min­is­tra­tion had “killed any glimpse of hope” for those who might have been granted the 2014 amnesty, known as DAPA.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­gered ad­vo­cates by choos­ing June 15 to make the de­ci­sion. That was the date in 2012 when Mr. Obama first an­nounced the DACA pro­gram for Dream­ers.

“I think they wanted to fla­vor the day with a lit­tle bit­ter­ness and spice it up by re­mind­ing im­mi­grants they should live in fear,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Demo­crat.

From the right, mean­while, some ac­tivists have threat­ened to pull their sup­port from Mr. Trump be­cause he has left the DACA pol­icy in place. They deemed it an un­con­sti­tu­tional power-grab by Mr. Obama, and had hoped Mr. Trump would keep his cam­paign prom­ise to re­voke it.

Fed­eral courts did not look kindly on Mr. Obama’s DAPA pol­icy.

First a fed­eral district judge in Texas ruled the pres­i­dent didn’t follow the law in mak­ing such a big pol­icy change. Then an ap­peals court went fur­ther, find­ing the pres­i­dent’s plans ac­tu­ally broke im­mi­gra­tion law. The Supreme Court dead­locked 4-4, leav­ing the lower courts’ in­junc­tion in place.

DAPA ap­plied to par­ents with chil­dren who were al­ready either U.S. cit­i­zens or le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents. The le­gal the­ory was that the chil­dren would even­tu­ally be able to spon­sor the par­ents for le­gal sta­tus, so there was some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for giv­ing them a sta­tus now.

By con­trast the Dream­ers do not have a blan­ket path­way to fu­ture le­gal sta­tus, mak­ing their case per­haps more legally sus­pect.

How­ever, no court has blocked the DACA pol­icy yet.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is not only keep­ing DACA in place for those ap­proved un­der Mr. Obama, but is grant­ing new amnesties as well.

Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John F. Kelly ear­lier this month urged Congress to pass leg­is­la­tion giv­ing Dream­ers a more per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus, say­ing there ap­pears to be a bi­par­ti­san con­sen­sus on Capitol Hill.

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