In a transparent sop to his white supremacist base, Donald Trump has reportedly decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), undoing yet another positive legacy of the nation’s first black president.
The decision is at odds with Trump’s reassurance in April that “Dreamers” in the DACA program should “rest easy” as his immigration crackdown got under way.
“Conversations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who argued that Congress — rather than the executive branch — is responsible for writing immigration law, helped persuade the president to terminate the program,” Eliana Johnson reports at POLITICO.
That should not surprise anybody. As a US senator for Alabama, Sessions was instrumental in derailing efforts at comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. It was during this fight that Sessions forged his alliance with Steven K. Bannon, who was turning Breitbart.com into “the platform of the alt-right.” Together with Sessions staffer Stephen Miller, they shaped a hysterical anti-immigrant political brand long before Trump declared his candidacy by describing Mexican immigrants as “rapists.”
The report of Trump’s decision drew a positive reaction from outspoken white supremacist Iowa Rep. Steve King, who admitted that his demographic anxiety is really about partisan power.
Ending DACA now gives chance 2 restore Rule of Law. Delaying so R Leadership can push Amnesty is Republican suicide. https://t.co/iYOLxFWp7V
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) September 4, 2017
The end of DACA will reportedly be delayed for six months to let Congress come up with a legislative fix. Of course, Republicans control Congress, and a rump party led by the likes of Steve King has consistently stifled all such efforts. They now show every sign of doing it again.
While White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is right that “Congress should’ve gotten its act together a lot longer ago,” this apparent last chance for clemency amounts to little more than a sneaky way of ending DACA without taking responsibility for the resulting damage.
Because ending DACA will certainly not “Make America Great Again.” Quite the opposite.
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 31, 2017
To date, DACA participants have paid some $400 million to the federal government for the privilege of staying in the only country they have ever known. About 800,000 young people have been able to get work, or get better work, or go to college by coming out of the shadows. These would-be American citizens and taxpayers will instead be forced out of their jobs, homes, and careers, exploited, and deported.
Breitbart commenters will be delighted by all the “triggered liberals” as these tragedies unfold, but the process won’t do much for the American economy on Wall Street or Main Street.
That’s especially true for the city of Houston, which is still drying out from a hurricane and now needs tens of thousands of laborers to clear out the destruction and rebuild. Not only are Dreamers ready and willing to do that work, but plenty of Mexican citizens would be happy to help if only America would let them.
Ironically, the labor shortage will impact a key priority of Trump and his rabid base. “You know what?” one Mexican friend tells Jed Horne, a writer who watched 100,000 Latinos reconstruct New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “It means your president won’t get to build his fucking wall. There won’t be workers for that either, not for a long time.”
Houston PD Chief on DACA debate amid Harvey: What do you tell the American public “when we’ve scared away so many hard-working people?” pic.twitter.com/ASOtFK7I75
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 3, 2017
Alabama, the state Jeff Sessions represented as a senator, is a cautionary tale about the limits of Trumpian ideology for making places “great.”
Despite passing one of the cruelest anti-immigration bills in the country in 2011, Alabama still ranks at the bottom in terms of economy and upward mobility. That legislation was so noxious that it was struck down by a federal court, but not until after thousands of immigrant families fled the state, leaving farm fields to rot.
The Heart of Dixie did become a little more white again; it didn’t become “great” at all.
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