Immigration: The Winning and Losing Issue for Trump
For many Trump voters last November, the topic of immigration was one of several big concern. This included securing the southern border with the famous “Trump wall,” but it also included rolling back some of President Obama’s immigration executive orders, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, as it’s commonly known. As of the first 100 days into the Trump presidency, DACA continues to function as it did under the Obama administration, despite Trump on the campaign trail calling the order “unconstitutional” and pledging to end it immediately.
HuffPost reports that at least one immigration watchdog group that supported Trump has taken notice, and their patience has run out:
The anti-undocumented immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC initially gave President Donald Trump until Tax Day to end a program they consider “amnesty,” or else they would revoke their endorsement.
When he didn’t, they gave him more time. If he didn’t end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in his first 100 days as president, they said, they’d pull their support. That deadline was Saturday ? he still hadn’t ended it. On Tuesday, ALIPAC president William Gheen finally did it: He said the organization no longer supports Trump.
“While we may be one of the first groups representing Trump’s base on immigration issues to leave the fold, we won’t be the last,” Gheen wrote in an open letter on ALIPAC’s website. “ALIPAC’s announcement about Trump will be considered as a warning sign among many American patriots that we have been lied to, misled, and betrayed, and our warning will have far reaching implications for the Trump administration and his band of pro-Amnesty advisors and cabinet members.”
Flash back to September of last year, when candidate-Trump released his immigration plan during a speech in Arizona. One of the points was to roll back the “unconstitutional orders” from President Obama, including DACA:
Point Five: Cancel Obama executive orders on immigration
Trump said he would end deferred-action programs put in place through executive orders by President Barack Obama. Trump called those programs unconstitutional.
One program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, remains in place. Another that would have applied to parents of those immigrants was stopped by federal courts.
Trump decried those programs as amnesty. “And how about all the millions who are waiting in line going through the process legally?” he said. “So unfair.”
Jump forward to present day, and the Trump administration says it currently has “no plans” to make any changes to DACA, as this report from February explains:
Newly released memos from the Department of Homeland Security leave intact two specific executive orders from President Barack Obama that granted protection from prosecution for so-called Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought to the US as children, and a second one that included parents of US citizens and legal residents.
“None of this affects DACA,” the name of the deferred action program, a Homeland Security official told reporters Tuesday. While Obama’s second executive order (DAPA) was untouched by the Trump administration, it has been blocked by the courts and is still tied up in legal action.
The preservation of the Obama-era policies comes after Trump has attempted to tread carefully on DACA, walking a line between Republicans who want the program cut entirely, and the political and practical impact of eliminating protections for undocumented immigrants.
“We’re gonna show great heart,” Trump said in a news conference last week. “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you.”
In this case, Trump is caught between promises made on the campaign trail, and the political realities involved with revoking legal status of minors and deporting them back to their home countries. The real fact of the matter is that leaving DACA in place is probably the most politically expedient thing he can do at the moment. Rather than risk upsetting the status of the “Dreamers,” or risk upsetting his base further by granting them some kind of full-blown amnesty, the issue remains unresolved.