Donald Trump takes aim at 'good' undocumented migrants

Paul McGeough
6 Sep 2017, noon

Even as he branded some among America's 12 million undocumented migrants as criminals, rapists and drug dealers, candidate Donald Trump allowed that some were "good people"

On Tuesday, the President took an axe to the program by which the cream of them work and study legally in the US, without fear of deportation.

Despite his claims to having a "great heart" and political balls, Trump upended the lives of hundreds of thousands of so-called "dreamers" - immigrants who were children when their parents came to the US illegally - in a political manoeuvre that revealed neither quality.
This President so loves to be in charge that he'd invite the cameras in for the opening of an envelope.

But it was his ardently anti-immigration Attorney General Jeff Sessions whom Trump dispatched to announce the winding-down of the hugely popular Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, under which an estimated 840,000 dreamers emerged from the twilight of their uncertain lives to apply for permits under DACA, as the Obama-era program is known.

In what analysts interpreted as a bid to soften the blow, there is to be an "orderly" six-month shut-down to "protect [DACA] beneficiaries in the near-term", in which Trump has flicked the issue to Congress, daring it to devise an alternative legislative mechanism instead of the executive order by which former president Barack Obama instigated DACA.

But here's the thing: critics claim implementation would take six months; and of all the issues that have been addressed by a dysfunctional Congress, immigration is the most vexing, with Republicans consistently opposing DACA-like proposals.

Harping more on constitutional that compassionate reasoning, Sessions branded DACA as an "open-ended circumvention of immigration laws".

He declared: "The policy was implemented unilaterally, to great controversy and legal concern ??? [Obama] deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorise on multiple occasions."

Claiming to be delivering on Trump's campaign promise to end DACA immediately, Sessions added: "We are people of compassion, and we are people of law, but there is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration law."

Only a quarter of the 800,000-plus DACA beneficiaries are expected to be able to renew their two-year permits in the coming six months, meaning that, if Congress can't agree on a new deal, as many as 600,000 would be liable for deportation to countries of which they know little and the languages of which they have only a smattering.

By some recent opinion polls, public support for DACA is as high as the mid-70s, but it is loathed among Trump's rusted-on supporters.

In a statement, Obama said: "It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today.

"This is about young people who grew up in America - kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag.

"These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they're undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver's license."

Denouncing Trump's decision as wrong, cruel and self-defeating, Obama ripped into his successor as he explained his own executive decision: "And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know ??? my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation ??? so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country."

Freighted with political calculations, the decision will be welcomed neither by Trump's most ardent supporters, who wanted a simple and immediate shutdown, nor by moderate Republicans and a sweep of business, faith, education and other lobbies that have demanded that DACA be preserved. More than 400 big-name chief executives have signed a petition demanding continued protection for dreamers.

The timeline for the wind-down and any congressional debate feeds into the primary ballots that precede the 2018 mid-term elections, which means that Republican lawmakers will be wary of being seen to be soft on DACA, lest they face a hard-right challenge for their party nomination.

And the administration and some in Congress, who will want to parade their hardline credentials, can be relied on to demand that the passage of DACA II be coupled with funding for Trump's border wall or some other immigration crackdown.

Trump, on the other hand, seems to be setting up Congress as the fall guy. If lawmakers can't decide on a replacement program, he will blame Congress, not his administration, for killing off DACA, the beneficiaries of which he described in February as "these incredible kids", insisting: "I love these kids. I love kids! I have kids and grandkids."

And though Trump is not one to be constrained by past utterances, he also spoke enthusiastically of DACA in 2011, telling a TV interviewer: "You have people in this country for 20 years. They've done a great job, they've done wonderfully, they've gone to school, they've gotten good marks [and] they're productive. Now we're supposed to send them out of the country? I don't believe in that."

And by Tuesday evening, it seemed that Trump did want to be seen to be in charge.

Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!??? Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017

The immigration activist group United We Dream tweeted: "No Donald - you don't get to wash your hands. You have the power to keep DACA until Congress passes clean bill #defendDACA."

Vanita Gupta, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, described the decision as "inhumane, cruel and shameful".

She told reporters: "There is no legal, ethical or moral justification for ending DACA, which is a lawful program. President Trump manufactured this unnecessary crisis. Congress must now act immediately to pass the Dream Act without any partisan, divisive amendments to permanently protect these young people."

Explaining the timing of the decision, the White House explained that Tuesday was the deadline set by a group of states, including Texas, that were threatening a legal challenge on DACA, which Sessions recently informed Trump he would not defend in court.
Now, Trump faces a challenge from Democrat-controlled states.

In a joint statement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned: "New York State will sue to protect the 'dreamers' and the state's sovereign interest in the fair and equal application of the law.

"Ending this policy represents an assault on the values that built this state and this nation ... upend[ing] the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people ??? including roughly 42,000 New Yorkers. It will rip families apart, sow havoc in our communities and force innocent people - our neighbours, our friends, and our relatives - to live in fear."

Even as Trump duck-shoved the issue to Sessions and to Congress, there were reports that perhaps the President didn't quite understand what he'd done.

As reported by The New York Times: "As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact."

Administration assurances that DACA records - including beneficiaries' addresses, social security numbers and their admissions that they were in the country illegally - would not be passed to immigration enforcement officers were met with scepticism - and warnings by legal experts that to do so would constitute entrapment.

But, hey, Trump said he had a heart, didn't he?

Donald Trump takes aim at 'good' undocumented migrants | Newcastle ...