The Corner


A Trio of Koch-Affiliated Groups Promote ‘Common Ground’ on the Dreamers

Charles Koch delivers welcoming remarks to the Koch Seminar Network meeting. (Seminar Network)

There’s no way a major deal on immigration policy gets done before Election Day, right? Even before House Democrats announced the impeachment inquiry and effort, the relationship between President Trump and House speaker Nancy Pelosi was about as warm and cooperative as that of the Sunni and the Shia. Most House Democrats find Trump to be virulently xenophobic, and their nominee will accuse him of cruelly throwing illegal immigrant children into cages; Trump will run in 2020 contending that electing his opponent means the de facto institution of “open borders.”

And yet, sometime next year, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on whether the Trump administration followed proper procedure when it ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by President Barack Obama in 2012. DACA allowed illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to receive renewable two-year work permits and exemption from deportation.

The Trump administration argued that Obama’s creation of the program was unconstitutional and attempted to cancel the program. DACA program defenders filed suit, arguing that even if the Trump administration had the authority to rescind the program and offers, the manner in which they reached the decision violated the Administrative Procedures Act, which allows judges to overturn an agency’s decision if it is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

After two federal appeals courts concurred with the challengers that the Trump administration’s action was unlawful, the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments this fall, with a decision expected in the spring or summer of 2020, in the middle of a heated presidential campaign. The Court could uphold the rulings that the Trump administration decision was arbitrary, capricious and/or an abuse of discretion — and effectively instruct the administration to go back to the drawing board and start the process of ending the policy again with better justification, or they could reverse the lower court rulings and effectively end the DACA program.

With neither DACA-supporting Democrats or DACA-opposing Republicans certain that they’re going to win at the Supreme Court, they might be a little more inclined to try to reach a deal preserving DACA in some form in exchange for other administration priorities on immigration.

Three organizations that are part of the Koch brothers’ network of organizations, Stand Together, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, and The LIBRE Institute are launching “Common Ground,” an effort to find some areas of agreement on immigration policy, seeing it as the natural follow-up to one of the rare bipartisan policy achievements of the Trump era, criminal justice reform and the First Step Act.

Starting next week in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, they’re launching an interactive exhibit that will attempt to galvanize a consensus to permanently protect the Dreamers from deportation. The exhibit will spotlight a trio of Dreamers who became a mental health counselor, a college student and youth pastor, and a small businesswomen; lay out flaws in the current system of immigration and that the last major reform of immigration laws came in 1990, and tell the story of a Dreamer from Mexico who joined the U.S. Marine Corps, and who fought and died in Operation Iraqi Freedom, earning the Navy Cross, an example of the roughly half-million veterans who are immigrants.

After displaying in Miami in early October, the exhibition will then move to Nashville, Tenn., to be displayed outside Politicon, a gathering of big names on both sides of the aisle in the Music City Center.

“Some are convinced that there is little value in talking about immigration because it’s too contentious and too divisive,” says Jorge Lima, vice president of policy for the Americans For Prosperity Foundation. “This campaign reveals that in reality there are key areas where Americans agree and share common ground and are able to unite around share values.”  

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