By Tony Quinn, Political analyst
The Trump decision to eliminate DACA will not lead to massive deportations of so-called Dreamers; in fact it is likely to have little effect at all. The 800,000 DACA immigrants were in this country before DACA was enacted in 2012; they are likely to be here long after it ends, if it does end.
That’s because the reality of immigration policy is much different than the hysteria that often surrounds it. Despite President Trump’s harsh talk about immigration, the fact is that deportations under Trump are down from the final year of deportations under President Obama. But you would hardly know that from the fear mongering that surrounds Trump’s immigration policy.
According to the Washington Post, 61,370 illegal alien criminals were deported between January and June 2017; that is down from the 70,603 criminal deported between January and June 2016, the last year of the Obama Administration. The rate of overall deportations is also down from 2016. Part of the reason for this is that the job of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been made much tougher under Trump by the sanctuary cities efforts. And a slowing of illegal border crossings under Trump has reduced the illegal immigrant population in America. So there are simply less people to deport.
It will take much greater effort by Trump for him to even reach the deportation levels of America’s presidential deporter in chief. That would be President Obama; it is a little known factoid but the Obama Administration deported more illegal aliens than any administration in American history, more than 2.5 million.
The Dreamers are, by definition, young people who have stayed in school or have a job and have stayed clear of any involvement with the law. They were already here; DACA did not open the floodgates of illegal immigration; it simply provided two years with renewal protection from deportation for law abiding undocumented immigrants. Little about their status is likely to change once DACA expires, and under the Trump order that will not be until 2020 anyway
So why all the hysteria over the Trump action? The answer is that Democrats think immigration is fabulous political issue for them, and enhances the national demographic trend that is already in the Democrats’ direction.
Polling shows that the public as a whole favors some sort of legalization of law abiding immigrants. The business community is with the Democrats in also wanting legalization; farmers are rightly fearful that they will have too few workers to pick the crops; and most importantly, carrying on about immigration should insure a massive Latino turnout in 2018 to vote against any Republican associated with Trump.
So there is absolutely no incentive on the part of Democrats to solve the immigration issue; they would much rather talk about it. In the first two years of the Obama Administration, Democrats held both chambers of congress by a wide margin yet never moved an immigration bill. Many prominent Democrats, including then Sen. Barack Obama, opposed the Bush Administration efforts at resolving illegal immigration.
So the crocodile tears being shed by Democrats across the country, and especially here in California, over Trump’s DACA order has the heavy aroma of hypocrisy. Republicans would like somehow to get this issue behind them; they know it makes their party look mean and cruel.
But that is exactly what Democrats want: a riled up Latino vote in 2018 and obvious proof that Republicans are the basket of racist deplorables Hillary Clinton said they were; what more can you ask for! Democrats are planning strong campaigns against incumbent GOP senators in Arizona and Nevada, both states with growing Hispanic populations, and against GOP Congressmen in heavily Latino districts, including here in California. In 2016, Clinton did much better than Obama in Arizona and Texas, flipping those states on increased Latino turnout would deliver the presidency to the Democrats in 2020. So why let this issue fade away?
All this leads to the obvious question, why did Trump eliminate DACA after all the hints that he would leave it alone. The Democratic answer, endorsed by most of the major American media, is that Trump is just a racist bigot afraid of racist bigoted base voters. The Trump Administration argues that DACA was an unconstitutional exercise of executive authority by Obama, a response that holds some credibility as Obama was reversed on a companion order affecting adult immigrants.
But if DACA was unconstitutional, why not just wait for a court to declare it so and avoid all the political pain of trying to eliminate it? Why give the Democrats an issue to further brand Trump as heartless and for which there has been virtually no defense of Trump’s action, other than some weak attempts to justify it on constitutional grounds.
Democrats are already having a field day with DACA’s demise, as evidence by Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s suggestion that its renewal be tired to Hurricane Harvey relief. Like Lucy with Charlie Brown’s football, they have been handed a weapon to endlessly torment congressional Republicans, who are having a dreadful enough fall as it is