Here are seven ways to look at the Trump administration’s decision to end the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program:
1. There’s the horror of recognizing that DACA beneficiaries, also called “dreamers,” had to provide information to the Department of Homeland Security in order to qualify, and what this means for them. Now the Trump administration will be able to use that information against them. Beyond being cruel, this gambit will alienate any vulnerable segment of the population from the federal government.
2. There’s the numerous tells that Trump himself is not exactly sure what he is doing, particularly this from the New York Times:
The blame-averse president told a confidante over the past few days that he realized that he had gotten himself into a politically untenable position. As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who was not authorized to comment on it and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Seriously, given Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s statement Tuesday I cannot figure out what that tweet means.
4. There’s the fact that the business community has come out pretty firmly in opposition to this announcement:
5. There’s the ways in which this is a deeply unpopular move with the American people:
Voters overwhelmingly support allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to stay in the country, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, placing President Donald Trump’s decision to wind down the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program at odds with public opinion.
A majority of voters, 58 percent, think these undocumented immigrants, also known as Dreamers, should be allowed to stay and become citizens if they meet certain requirements — a sentiment that goes well beyond the existing DACA program. Another 18 percent think they should be allowed to stay and become legal residents, but not citizens. Only 15 percent think they should be removed or deported from the country.
Support for allowing these immigrants to remain in the U.S. spans across party lines: 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of independents and 69 percent of Republicans think they should stay.
6. There’s the ways in which even immigrant hardliners seem to be uncomfortable with this change in policy:
7. Finally, there is the slowly dawning recognition among the nationalists supporting Trump that they now face the same political dilemma as free traders have faced for decades.
Let me explain this last one. The problem with the politics of free trade is that the benefits are often intangible while the costs are easily observable. Media coverage of trade does not know what to do with news that freer trade lowers the cost of imports or boosts productivity. The media does get covering a plant going out of business because of import competition, however. The narrative about the costs of trade is simple and easily explainable. It focuses the mind on the costs and not the benefits of trade liberalization.
With this DACA move, the easy narrative will be on the suffering of the dreamers themselves. The Atlantic’s David Frum is pretty sympathetic to immigration crackdowns, but he seems on the mark in predicting how this move will play out:
As so often, he did not think it through. Democrats have no incentive to make his deal — and every incentive to thwart it. If Santa asked minority leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer what they would like most for Christmas this year (Trump is president now, so we can say the word “Christmas” again), they might reply: “Some spectacular deportations of people brought to the United States sometime during the 2018 congressional cycle would be perfect.”….
Lacking any concrete proposal to debate, the immigration discussion will instead focus on the personal stories of the most sympathetic DACA beneficiaries.
As local news bombards them with such accounts, GOP members of Congress — facing an already ominous 2018 cycle — will panic and buckle. They will extend DACA without any offsetting concessions at all, punting the rest of the immigration agenda to later.
DACA, like Obamacare, has some issues. Trump’s attempted “fix” of these problems, however, is catastrophic. Politically, Trump has managed to alienate the business community and the American people.
All in all, just another day in the beclowning of the executive branch of the federal government.