Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday, Sept. 5 the White House’s plans to formally rescind former President Barack Obama’s executive order amnesty program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA). President Donald Trump will end the program in March, giving Congress six months to draft and pass legislation addressing the status of illegal residents.
DACA was created from a 2012 Department of Homeland Security memo and later expanded to include similar programs through executive order. The program grants work permits, Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and delayed deportation to illegal immigrants who arrived in the country under the age of 18.
President Obama’s aim in creating DACA was to exercise what is known as “prosecutorial discretion” with respect to immigration law. The executive order that created DACA attempted to nullify a set of laws passed rightfully by the legislature.
President Obama clearly violated his oath of office in creating DACA, usurping the power of Congress and defying the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 states: “The Congress shall have power…to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.”
The president alone does not have the power to create immigration laws.
Obama knew this; he even said as much during his first term.
“With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case… for me to simply through executive order ignore congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President,” Obama said prior to doing precisely that.
President Obama attempted to pass his policy the right way, through Congress, in the form of the D.R.E.A.M. Act for three consecutive congressional sessions, and it failed to pass time after time after time.
It was only after not getting his way in Congress that President Obama decided to bring the amnesty provision into being via unconstitutional executive action.
For some perspective on this, let us imagine that President Trump decided to unilaterally rewrite the U.S. Tax Code tomorrow. There would be riots in the streets, and for a good reason. Such action is beyond the scope of the Executive Branch and violates the separation of powers upon which our country was founded.
We have a tripartite system of governance in this country for the explicit purpose of preventing any one branch from usurping the core functions of another.
By rescinding the usurpacious amnesty program, Trump effectively gave Congress their constitutionally afforded power back.
Nobody disagrees that our immigration system is in dire need of reform. However, this reform must come from Congress, instead of overreaching dictatorial action by the Executive Branch.
President Trump’s decision to suspend DACA and return the constitutional rule of law to immigration should be applauded. Congress is responsible for creating laws; the Supreme Court is responsible for interpreting those laws, and the duty of the President is to enforce said laws. Anything else is tyrannical and un-American.
Richard Saunders is a student at West Chester University.