As published in the Immigration Daily on January 23, 2017.
In the wake of signing some executive orders on the day of his inauguration, January 20, 2017, to show that he means business, President Trump is preparing mass signings of executive orders (some say over 200) during the next weeks expected to impact the work of many agencies, including in the field of immigration. From comments that he and his nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, had made, it was expected that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) would be one of the first to go. The fate of the 700,000+ who have received the benefits of the program was then muddled after the expected abolishment, with Mr. Trump saying in his December Time Magazine man of the year interview, “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud… They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some of them were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen”, and Mr. Sessions, “Fundamentally, we need to fix this immigration system… We’ve been placed in a bad situation. I really would urge us all to work together. I would try to be supportive, to end the illegality and put us in a position where we can wrestle with how to handle these difficult, compassionate decisions.”
Reince Priebus, White House Chief of Staff, exposed the thinking of Mr. Trump and his team in an interview on Fox News with Chris Wallace on Sunday, January 22, when directly asked whether among the executive actions that Trump plan to sign today and this week, “Specifically, is he going to undo DACA, the Obama executive action to defer deportation for the 700,000 so-called DREAMers who were brought into this country illegally…, and dodging that by saying, “I think we’re going to work with House and Senate leadership as well to get a long-term solution on that issue,” but after being asked the follow-up question, “So, you won’t undo DACA until –“ saying that “I’m not going to make any commitments to you, but I’ve, you know I’m obviously foreshadowed there a little bit.” So if the idea takes hold and legislative relief is passed, will it be a bill that has not yet been written or will Mr. Trump support the already written bipartisan bill, the BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy) Act which would give DACA-like protection and employment for 3 years. The other piece of written legislation by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake would give similar protections under the SAFE (Securing Active and Fair Enforcement) Act for 2 years, but has the unfair anti-immigrant feature that any alien arrested on charges for an excludable offense would be detained throughout the entire period of removal proceedings even if cleared of the charges. In other words, someone’s spiteful false complaint would be enough to get an innocent alien detained and deported.
In the end, some palatable solution must be worked out for the Dreamers and all others in similar position who did not apply for the benefits of DACA. Besides the economic benefits of having bright people that the U. S. has educated work to raise this country during the 30-50 years of productive work life that they have left, the threat of having such a populace lose all hope and some listen to the siren song of others and be persuaded to channel their aggressions in acts of violence must be a consideration to the Trump administration.
Although there will undoubtedly be many immigration changes for the worse in the near future, there now appears to be hope for the DACA beneficiaries and their ilk to gain relief under a Trump administration.