Chief Justice John Roberts, once again played a judicial King Solomon, joining the Supreme Court’s liberal block in a contrived 5-4 decision on DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Roberts hung his hat on a questionable administrative-law technicality to achieve a public policy outcome that’s rightly the domain of Congress.
The ruling in DHS v. University of California should, instead, have confirmed that President Obama’s unlawful executive order in 2012 circumventing Congress to create DACA was simply superseded by President Donald Trump’s executive order repealing it in 2017. Under the law, a latter executive order “trumps” a former one.
Further bolstering Trump’s case was a 2015 federal district court ruling in Texas that blocked another Obama overreach in his 2014 executive order creating DAPA, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans program. That executive order extended DACA-like protections to illegal-immigrant parents of children who were born in this country. The Texas court was later upheld by the Supreme Court after a deadlocked vote.
If boundless compassion were the only criterion for permanently legalizing the status of these young immigrants who were brought into this country illegally by their parents, then Presto! problem solved: the youngsters are OK. However, in rational minds, compassion is not the only criterion in dealing with this and other issues.
Control of a country’s borders is an inviolable requirement of national sovereignty. Those who declare that the U.S. military can’t be the world’s policeman should also understand that we don’t have the economic means, the obligation or the desire to be the ultimate refuge or welfare state of the world. In the interest of preserving our way of life, our economy and national security, our government has every right and responsibility to decide who, from where and how many foreigners we admit.
When debating this issue with activists for “open borders” (which essentially means no borders at all) who justify their case as a moral, humanitarian imperative, ask them if they have a limiting principle. Is our nation of 330 million really obliged to admit all of the world’s 7 billion people who might like to come here? If not, where do you draw the line: at 100 million, one billion or more? I’ve often asked that question of open borders advocates, and I’m still waiting for a coherent answer.
A broad DACA amnesty gives the wrong message to scores of would-be migrants, encouraging them to also unlawfully cross our border. Nonetheless, one can sympathize with the plight of most of the 700,000 young immigrants covered under DACA who’ve made America their home. They’re a relatively small share of the illegal immigration problem, and compassion is one consideration.
The obvious remedy has long been a compromise. That’s the way differences between the House and Senate, presidents and Congress, and Democrats and Republicans have been traditionally resolved. This could have been done in 2017, early in Trump’s term. He and congressional Republicans offered to go along with a Democrat bill legalizing the status of DACA immigrants. In exchange, Democrats were asked to go along with Republicans and appropriate $5 billion to build a border wall. And Trump would sign both measures into law.
Democrats rebuffed that deal and continue to today. As part of the anti-Trump “Resistance,” their professed concern for the DACA “dreamers” takes a back seat to their obstinate refusal to let Trump make good on a central campaign promise, denying him a symbolic victory on the border wall. (In retrospect, $5 billion on the border wall is chump change compared to the $4 trillion we’ll be spending due to COVID-19 by the end of this year.)
It was never practical to round up and deport the 10 or 15 million who have crossed our southern border unlawfully in recent decades. So, a bipartisan agreement on comprehensive immigration reform could have been crafted starting with effective border security and accompanied by a conditional amnesty, a limit on future immigration, a pathway to citizenship for many illegal immigrants and deportation of others who have committed serious crimes.
Such an arrangement has been blocked by Democrats for years whose opposition to border security and immigration limits is a non-negotiable part of their political agenda to open our borders and, as they imagine, dominate the Latino vote forever. Compounded by their pathological hatred of Trump, Democrats are determined to block reasonable immigration reform until the day they secure total control of Congress and the presidency, and then impose their will.
Mike Rosen is an American radio personality and political commentator.