The DACA Compromise Confusion

Sen. John McCain speaks a press conference in Washington, D.C., in October 2017. (Reuters file photo: Aaron P. Bernstein)
Sweeping policy changes require congressional legislation. Obama flouted constitutional order; Congress must restore it.

In the Senate yesterday, John McCain (R., Ariz.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) introduced a bipartisan plan to extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ahead of its upcoming March 5 expiration.

Their bill would grant permanent legal status to “Dreamers” (the recipients of the DACA program), but it fails to address any of Trump’s preferred immigration-policy changes, such as ending chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.

This supposed compromise also fails to authorize Trump’s requested $25 billion for border-wall construction, instead proposing a comprehensive study of border-security needs.

The president seemed to disapprove of this plan on Twitter Monday morning, though he didn’t refer to the bill by name:

The entire fiasco is an excellent practical illustration of why the Constitution prohibits the executive branch from instituting massive policy overhauls absent congressional approval. Given that the presidency shifts between parties so frequently, policies enacted the way DACA was become vulnerable to reversal by the incoming president and his administration, creating untenable situations such as the one we currently face.

Now Congress has to scramble to find a solution to prevent the termination of DACA — a decision that will affect at least 700,000 undocumented immigrants, who were promised a place in the U.S. by the government — simply because the Obama administration ignored the Constitution and launched its own policy in blatant defiance of the appropriate lawmaking process.

Regardless of which compromise Washington may eventually enact, this debacle should serve as a lesson in why the executive branch must leave lawmaking to Congress.


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