Just so you know, DACA hasn't actually ended . . . and probably never will

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday September 08th, 2017

Trump is trying to codify into law what Obama did on the fly, without authority or any legal way to make it work.

It's funny what you can get people to believe when they already want to believe it, and that's especially easy when we're talking about people who are predisposed to think the worst of Donald Trump.

You probably think Trump just threw the lives of 800,000 people into chaos by stripping them of their protection from deportation. Innocent people who were brought here as children by no choice of their own, and have never had to face a reckoning for the fact that they are here illegally, will now be torn away from the only place they know as home and shipped off to some foreign land as strange to them as Madagascar is to you.

You probably think that because that's what the media is telling you, just as you thought Trump gave aid and comfort to white supremacists after Charlottesville, when in fact he most assuredly did not. You're already inclined to think Trump is a heartless bastard, so why wouldn't you believe he has done this dastardly thing to the beloved DREAMers?

Of course you believe he did.

Problem. He didn't.

I wrote last week that Trump should end Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, not because I think the childhood arrivals are a problem but because Obama's action makes a mockery of the law. I said then:

Obama often misappropriated the term "prosecutorial discretion," but rarely as blatantly as he did here. The correct use of the term would mean that a prosecutor looks at an individual case and decides if it warrants action against a suspect, based on the evidence in the case and a whole host of other factors. Obama tried to twist the phrase to mean that entire classes of people would never be charged with a crime, or that entire laws themselves would never be enforced.

That is not prosecutorial discretion. That's the president unilaterally changing the law.

Ending DACA doesn't mean that we're going to round up these people tomorrow and ship them all back to wherever they came from. It means we're going to use real prosecutorial discretion, looking at each case on its merits and prioritizing where to take action. And when circumstnaces warrant, it's possible someone who's been here since their youth will be sent back.

That would obviously be unwelcome news for that person, but the law is the law and no country can survive if it wantonly ignores its own laws but doesn't have the courage to actually change them via the legislative process. That's what the left wants to do here - keep the laws on the books but simply ignore them at the whim of the president. Or I should say, at the whim of the last president. When this president tries to actually enforce the laws that are already on the books, people seem to freak out.

The only thing Obama's DACA really amounts to is the president telling immigration officials: Don't enforce the law with respect to this particular class of people. That is not real protection. It is an executive decision to look the other way when you've got a very large problem that needs a solution with legal standing to it.

Trump's actual solution is even more generous to the DREAMers than I had envisioned, as Andrew McCarthy explains:

The only “action” Trump has taken is to bar new DACA applications for six months, starting now. Over those same six months, though, any pending applications will continue to be considered (and, in the main, granted, you can bank on it); and any two-year work permits that would otherwise expire will be reauthorized. But if the program is unconstitutional because a president has no authority to confer, among other things, such positive legal benefits as work permits, what is the legal rationale for continuing it for another half-year (having already continued it for eight months), during which the work permits will continue to be issued and honored?

Now, after all of Attorney General Sessions’s huffing and puffing yesterday, Trump not only announces that he wants the program legalized; he further signals that he is prepared to continue going Obama’s executive-action route if Congress cannot get a bill passed. If you are a congressional Democrat, why would you agree to anything but a straight-up codification of DACA? What conceivable reason would you have to negotiate and make concessions on the improvements discussed in our NRO editorial on DACA yesterday — border security, E-Verify, or the RAISE Act?

McCarthy is actually irritated that after all Trump's campaign rhetoric about getting tough on illegal immigration, he looks ready to grant actual legal protection to those Obama were merely ignoring the law to protect.

And it's true. That's what Trump is doing. He may very well get this through Congress because it's one of the few things he wants to do that will likely garner some Democrat votes.

Does that make it bad policy? To my mind, no, because while I realize many will call it "amnesty," it seems fairest outcome to relieve people of legal jeopardy when it's not really their fault they're technically in violation of the law, provided of course they've caused no other problems while they've been here. My problem with Obama's action was always that he applies his characteristic disregard for the law, and for the limits of his own authority, to piece together a "solution" that didn't solve anything, and that made a mockery of the law.

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

Then again, I've never been as exorcised about immigration as a lot of conservatives are. I'm completely in favor of enforcing the laws on the books, but I'm also in favor of enacting fixes to the law where new approaches would make more sense for the economy, the labor market and families than the letter of the law presently on the books. I don't think immigrants are really the reason most Americans can't find jobs. I think the reason is that the Americans in question engage in bad habits that make them unemployable, and they need to get themselves together rather than point the finger foreigners who provide a better value to employers.

But none of this matters if you're buying the media headlines that lead you to think Trump is about to rip the poor DREAMers away from their homes and ship them off to parts unknown. He is not going to do that. He's merely telling Congress to come up with a legal solution in the form of a bill he can sign. But you don't know that because you trust the usual suspects to give you your news.

Maybe you should be deported.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!