With President Trump rescinding DACA (or faux rescinding depending on your trust level) on Tuesday, a firestorm of criticism and allegations have been set off. With an issue as sensitive as this, there’s almost no way to discuss it without bringing hell-fire down on yourself. Those that support the rescinding have been accused of being cruel, un-Christian, and economically illiterate. Rarely does the fact that the original order is almost certainly unconstitutional factor into the current chaos, although it should be the most relevant variable to any self-proclaimed Republican, much less conservative.
John McCain and Paul Ryan have both come out against ending the EO despite their pointed criticisms of it’s illegality in the past. Explaining why supposed rule of law Republicans would support keeping an order they say is illegal is a bit like trying to explain astrophysics to your dog. What’s the point? Washington D.C. is what it is. A bevy of contradictions from all sides and branches.
For the President’s part, he’s basically kicked his supporters in the head by signaling his support for DACA being codified into law
In all this mess, we’ve seen certain narratives solidify. The “Dreamers,” a name Orwell would be proud of, are the best and brightest among us, or so I’m constantly told.
The CATO institute put out a ludicrous study claiming that while Dreamers make $25 billion a year, it would take $6 billion to replace them with American workers. As a business owner in a field that does require a fair bit of training (IT), the idea that it takes 24% of a yearly salary (on average) for a business to hire a new worker is laughable. For some very specialized fields or high level management positions that require a lot of recruiting? Absolutely. On average, among DACA recipients that have a median income of $34,000 a year? Not a chance. The US average for training a new employee is $1,208. The average total cost-per-hire is $4,129. Not chump change, but not 24% of annual pay.
The messaging is one of economic disaster if 800k illegal immigrants aren’t granted permanent status. Apparently, about 50% of them are going to be doctors and nurses given the current framing we see in the media.
Conservatives are left with a conundrum in all this. We are slammed with specious studies like the above, attacked on a moral level, and left murmuring in the fetal position about the joys of the constitution while everyone else argues from an emotional standpoint. The unintended consequences of incentivizing illegal behavior are also consistently ignored. Despite all that, I think most are generally sympathetic to the plight at hand.
In a perfect world, a Congressional “Dream Act” would be a one time amnesty bolstered by greatly increased border security (including a wall in places where a wall makes perfect sense). You would think that would be an easy compromise. Everyone wins. But this is Washington D.C. so of course that’s not going to happen.
Meanwhile, a recent Politico article illustrated many of the attitudes that worry conservatives so much.
Those recipients, along with immigration reform advocates, have been lobbying lawmakers to reject any deal that would result in a border wall, Capitol Hill aides and activists have told The Daily Beast.
The DREAMers have done so despite the fact that such an arrangement would directly ensure that their legal status was no longer in limbo after Trump announced he would scrap the program that President Barack Obama began via executive action in 2012. And it’s not just in the halls of Congress where they’re stressing that point.
“I’m not going to step on top of my community to get ahead,” said Jose Aguiluz, a D.C. native who was brought by his family from Honduras when he was 15 years old and who received his DACA status in 2012.
Aguiluz, a nurse, was outside the White House on Tuesday to protest Trump’s decision. “By me trying to say, ‘Oh, let’s make a deal with the wall,’ it is like I’m stepping up on my community, my parents, uncles, and grandparents, that I’m putting them down so that I can get ahead,” he said. “That’s unfair and it’s not American.”
This is exactly the kind of thing that causes so many conservatives to recoil at the idea of amnesty. We are told these people know no other home. They have no other loyalties but to the US. Yet, when a completely logical offer of amnesty in exchange for border security is presented, it’s largely rejected. These two DACA recipients cite not wanting to “step on their community.” I thought we were their community?
Furthermore, while I have no problem with pride in a country of origin (I think the mingling of cultures in America is awesome), there’s a certain bit of irony in people demanding legal status while bemoaning the taking of steps to better enforce immigration law as stepping “on my community.” Anyone seeking permanent legal status in this country should be able to prioritize future respect and support for enforcement of our laws as a fairly easy concession.
Democrats in Congress have also largely punted on the idea of real border security in exchange for passing the “Dream Act.” We are looking at token throw ins at this point.
Then there’s the predictable reaction to all this from the most vocal pro-illegal realms.
“General Kelly is a hypocrite who is a disgrace to the uniform he used to wear. He has no honor and should be drummed out of the White House along with the white supremacists and those enabling the President’s actions by ‘just following orders,’” Gutierrez said in a statement issued hours after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA will be phased out.
That’s House Representative Luis Gutierrez (D) slandering a man with 40+ years of military service as a disgrace to his country. General Kelly also had a son die in Afghanistan so his sacrifices run deeper than most. Disgusting doesn’t begin to describe that comment.
Many other Democrats joined in with less salacious language. Barack Obama called it “cruel” in a manifesto of contradictions and blame shifting for a situation he created by his own illegality. Bernie Sanders reached into the hyperbole drawer and came up with “the cruelest action by a US President in modern history.” Aspiring grandstander-in-chief Kamala Harris called it a “cruel betrayal.” You get the point. The focus groups came back on what word is most effective.
These kinds of attitudes only bolster the general conservative belief that rewarding illegality only leads to more illegality. It also reinforces our worst fears about the political consequences of mass amnesty toward conservative ideals. The establishment of DACA set off a child migration crisis at the border. What will the codification of it as law do? Is there any question that the political ramifications won’t be pretty for conservatives going forward if citizenship is granted to such a heavily progressive group (and we all know it’s headed that way)?
What we are seeing in public statements and protests across the country doesn’t give the impression of a good faith, rational debate taking place. Instead we see rabid, combative entitlement. And it doesn’t stop at the 800k affected by DACA. This continues to full scale amnesty.
Here’s what I’d love to believe. I’d love to believe that the “Dreamers” and elected Democrats “get it.” I want to believe that they understand the legalities at play and that legalization is not an entitlement. I want to believe that they understand any legalization is a show of mercy and a gift of compassion by the American voter. I want to believe such a realization would bring about graciousness toward our laws and enforcing them. I want to believe we could all stand in one voice to say this legalization is a marker against future amnesties so as to discourage future illegal crossings.
I want to believe all that because I do have sympathies for these people.
But truth be told, I don’t believe any of that. Nothing I’ve seen says they “get it.” Everything I’ve seen says we’ll be right back here in a decade with the same situation dominating our news cycles. The faces will be different but the results the same.