7 September 2017

Note from Norm: Six Months to Fix DACA

There is no question in my mind that DACA – the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals – is a policy that makes economic and humanitarian sense.

For the 800,000 individuals who are currently covered under DACA, and the potential 1.9 million who could be eligible, this policy has been a lifeline to remain a part of American life.

Yet, the decision by President Trump to end the program in six months, and call upon Congress to create a permanent fix, is absolutely the right call.

The American Action Forum’s Ben Gitis underscores the huge budgetary costs of ending DACA at $50 billion.

That, of course, pales in comparison to the nearly $175 billion in economic cost of about 1% of real gross domestic product that disappears with the loss of those DACA participants in our economy.

The Rule of Law on DACA is clear, as Doug Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum writes shortly after the President’s decision, particularly in light of threats from various states who were planning to litigate the legal issues surrounding the program.

President Obama’s DACA policy was, and remains, as Holtz-Eakin explains, “….an illegal executive overreach…”

I’m for keeping DACA alive-but it must be done legally and constitutionally

The Rule of Law in America cannot simply be about what makes sense economically or how we feel emotionally about those being impacted by President Trump’s decision to end the program in six months.

America is no closer today to comprehensive immigration reform than it was during my time as a member of the United States Senate.

Despite efforts by both parties, by both bodies of Congress, and by two of the most recent Presidents, we still have an immigration system that is broken and unworkable.

This broken system, and the inability to find a consensus on a path to citizenship for millions of people living in the United States illegally, was made even worse by the actions of President Barack Obama in 2012.

Obama, unable and unwilling to find a way to work with Congress on anything, chose to implement DACA .

However well-intentioned the effort the President’s actions bordered on unconstitutional.

President Trump’s decision is obviously not a popular one with Democrats in Congress.

Frankly, if the President had opted to terminate the program outright many Republicans, including myself, would have objected to his decision.

However, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan summed the matter up perfectly in his response to the President’s announcement.

“However well-intentioned, President Obama’s DACA program was a clear abuse of executive authority, an attempt to create law out of thin air. Just as the courts have already struck down similar Obama policy, this was never a viable long-term solution to this challenge. Congress writes laws, not the president, and ending this program fulfills a promise that President Trump made to restore the proper role of the executive and legislative branches.”

It is my great hope, perhaps my penchant for trying to find something good in those things that are difficult, that this debate will bring us closer to a comprehensive immigration reform solution.

In the short-term there will a great political gnashing of teeth by those who suggest that we’re turning our backs on Dreamers in America.

I prefer to believe we are looking to find a permanent solution that will protect them, and millions of others, if Congress can find a bi-partisan solution to this challenge.

President Obama chose a solution that made him feel like he was doing something.

Unfortunately, in doing so he kicked the can down the road and provided no permanent and sustainable solution to the difficult and complex problem.

President Trump is giving Congress the opportunity to do what Congress should have done in 2012 – fix the problem. 

He’s also made it clear that if Congress won’t do it, he will.