Just what did President Donald Trump mean when he said on Friday he has a “great feeling for DACA?”
If you are one of the immigrants in the U.S. illegally through no fault of your own, brought here before you were 16, it will take an agonizing long weekend – until Tuesday – to find out.
Trump’s taunting tease was over whether he will end former President Barack Obama’s program — called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA — providing legal protections for these immigrants, often called “Dreamers.”
“We’ll be releasing on DACA sometime over the weekend, probably Sunday, Saturday. Latest will be Monday. Great feeling for DACA,” Trump said, taking a question from a pool reporter in the Oval Office after delivering an update about Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Turns out it won’t be by Monday, Labor Day, though I wouldn’t blame any of the DACA youths in the U.S being too nervous and afraid to enjoy the holiday. There are about 790,000 DACA youths in the U.S., according to latest data released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Obama installed the DACA program in 2012, using an executive order, which is nowhere as good as a law. If you qualified for DACA status, you had your life to live, with the fear removed of being deported to a place you may have no memory of.
Here’s the problem. One president signs an order; another president can revoke it.
It’s that easy.
Obama used an executive order because that was the best he could do; he could not get a law through Congress.
A law is what is needed, especially in this anti-immigrant era of Trump.
According to the PEW Research Center, there are 42,376 DACA recipients in Illinois – with most living in Chicago or the collar counties, said Rebecca Shi, who runs the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition — a group of corporate executives, Republicans and Democrats, who have been working on immigration reform for years.
On Friday, their national umbrella group of some 300 top U.S. business leaders urged Trump not to end the DACA program. They also called on Congress to pass legislation — a “permanent solution” that a president can’t wipe out with a signature.
Among the Illinois signers of the letter: former Obama Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker; Exelon Chairman Emeritus John Rowe, who is co-chair of the immigration coalition; Crate and Barrel Co-Founders Carole and Gordon Segal; foundation executive Susan Crown; Willis Towers Watson Group Managing Partner John Atkinson; and Glenn Tilton, former chairman of United Airlines.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the Friday briefing that Trump’s announcement will actually be on Tuesday.
“The President’s priorities on immigration are to create a system that encourages legal immigration and benefits our economy and American workers. The President has been very clear: He loves people, and he wants to make sure that this decision is done correctly,” said Sanders.
What, in this context, does love mean?
Does it mean Trump will leave DACA intact? Create his own version? Encourage Congress to pass legislation protecting Dreamers and pledging to sign the measure? In July, Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., who founded the Dreamer movement, joined with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to launch a new drive to pass their stand-alone “Dream Act.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is advising Trump not to end DACA, telling Janesville radio station WCLO: “I actually don’t think he should do that. … I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.”
This potential move against DACA is not being considered by Trump in a vacuum. It comes amidst a Trump crackdown on immigrants and sanctuary local governments – among them Chicago and Cook County.
Said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement: “It is time for President Trump to stop trying to tear down President Obama’s unifying agenda and [spend] more time trying to build his own.”