As the Supreme Court began hearing arguments on Tuesday over President Trump’s attempted termination of DACA– an Obama-era program protecting undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation– the president is promising a “deal” to allow the young immigrants to stay. The conservative-led Court on Tuesday appeared ready to side with the Trump Administration to shut the DACA program down, though no ruling is expected until summer.
Calling Trump’s promised deal “snake oil” would be an understatement.
In the same tweet where he promised to strike a deal with Democrats to allow DACA recipients (also known as Dreamers) to stay, Trump took the time to disparage them first. “Many of the people in DACA, [are] no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals,” the president wrote.
In truth, Dreamers have a lower incarceration rate than American citizens, and more importantly, aren’t even ineligible for the DACA program if they have felonies or serious misdemeanors on record.
That’s because the entire original purpose of Obama’s DACA program was to spare undocumented immigrants with good behavior from immigration enforcement. A 2012 Homeland Security release said the department would use DACA to “ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children,” and would instead focus their resources on violent criminals and repeat offenders. At the time of its creation, the program was a temporary piecemeal for the only long-term solution available– a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
Legislation that would do exactly that has been blocked by Republicans in Congress since 2007, and most recently, is sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk in the form of a House bill passed earlier this year.
Trump has played this card before
When Trump announced he would end DACA in September 2017, he gave Congress six months to replace the Obama-era executive order with a new law.
For the next several months, Democrats and Republicans attempted to come to a deal, but Trump didn’t make it easy. He repeatedly insisted any DACA bill should include funding for his border wall, a request Democrats rejected again and again.
In February, a bipartisan proposal that included $25 billion for border security funding and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers came to a vote in the Senate after months of negotiating. It failed in a 54-45 vote after Trump pushed Republicans to vote against the bill because the proposal didn’t include an end to the diversity visa lottery and family-based immigration.
By the time March rolled around (the six-month deadline for reaching a deal), Trump had already rejected at least six or seven bipartition solutions to guarantee protections for Dreamers. When Trump signed a major $1.3 trillion spending package later that month that also didn’t include protections for Dreamers, he had the audacity to blame Democrats for not reaching a solution to the very problem he had created six months earlier.
With DACA’s termination put on hold by the Supreme Court and that litigation currently being debated, Trump has still taken no steps to produce a no-strings-attached solution to protect the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients in the U.S.
In fact, he’s only made their lives more difficult. Last week, the Trump Administration introduced a proposal to increase the fees Dreamers pay every two years to apply for temporary protection, hiking the cost from $495 to $765.
It doesn’t take a sleuth to know that Trump and his white nationalist-affiliated immigration policy architect Stephen Miller have no deal in mind, nor do they want one. To the current administration, the tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants who have only ever called America home are a bargaining chip, a vulnerable population to hold hostage in front of Democrats in the pursuit of more right-wing immigration policy.
Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org