Trump Abandons Stateless Children

In support of its decision to rescind the federal policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants to enjoy some of the privileges of citizenship, the Department of Justice declares ┬áthat its adoption was in defiance of federal immigration law. Known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the policy is a direction to immigration officers to refrain from enforcement actions against immigrants who entered the country as children, provided the beneficiary is 30 years old or younger, is attending school or has a high school diploma or honorable discharge from the armed forces, and has no criminal record. The policy has been challenged in federal court on the grounds that the president doesn’t have the authority to relax enforcement under current immigration laws. The Justice Department’s action amounts to capitulation to the court challenges. It acknowledges the plenary authority of the legislative branch to make immigration laws. It’s likely to result in a loss of employment and possible exclusion from the USA for hundreds of thousands of young people.

If the logic of the rescission were applied consistently, our armed forces would be obliged to interrupt combat operations in Syria and Afghanistan and generally refrain from killing people in faraway places. These operations are in defiance of our constitution which explicitly vests the legislative branch with plenary authority to declare war. The president may be commander-in-chief, but, just as he’s not allowed to make immigration laws on his own, he’s not allowed to attack foreign countries without congressional action.

If it seems odd to you that an unlawful exercise of authority that benefits disadvantaged people is so easily challenged while an unlawful exercise of authority that amounts to mass murder goes unchallenged, you’re not alone. If you’re planning to write your member in support of a legislative solution to the problem facing these young immigrants, you might also remind him or her of this other longstanding abuse of presidential authority and the devastation and misery it’s causing people in distant lands.

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