President Trump threads the needle on DACA

President Trump faced quite the challenge this week when he found himself caught between a campaign promise and a slight change of heart after the election. The issue in question was the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is an unconstitutional action taken by former President Obama that would allow some 800,000 illegal aliens - who arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 - to be given work permits and temporary amnesty. This allowed them to temporarily remain in the country and be deferred from removal by immigration enforcement. 

Trump had campaigned hard against DACA, noting that it was not only illegal but bad public policy. In fact, just months after DACA came into being, the U.S. experienced a huge influx (to the tune of tens of thousands) of Central American unaccompanied minors and families illegally entering the country, hoping that they too might benefit from this new amnesty program for minors.

After meeting some of these DACA recipients after the election, Trump noted that he would handle the situation "with heart," and assured them that he would do the best he could - within the boundaries of the law - to handle their situation. Finding himself pulled in two opposite directions, Trump was somehow able to find a way to thread the needle.


Recently, the Trump administration announced that in six months, it would begin to wind down DACA, meaning that the administration would no longer accept new DACA applications and that in most cases, DACA recipients would have up to two years, and in some cases even more time, to prepare themselves for the end of DACA and their eventual return to their home countries. For employers with DACA employees, it allows them to prepare for an easy transition from the DACA employee to a legal U.S. worker.

Perhaps most importantly, Trump, knowing that only Congress has the constitutional authority to make new laws, urged congressional Democrats to come to the bargaining table and make an honest attempt here to cut a deal. For his part, Trump has laid out a very clear vision of changes to our immigration laws that would both secure the border and ensure that immigration served the best interests of the American people. Those proposals include:

  • A move away from the current legal immigration system to a merit-based system of selecting immigrants, accompanied by a return to more traditional levels of immigration.
  • The construction of a border wall - one of candidate Trump's core themes - to help fight future illegal immigration. 
  • Increased interior immigration enforcement, including pushing the Senate to take action on Kate's Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, two bills that passed the House of Representatives with bi-partisan support.
  • The adoption of mandatory, universal E-Verify. This web-based system allows employers to verify that a prospective candidate can legally work in the U.S., something that takes just a few minutes to do and is free. 

Trump wants to see passage of these various enforcement measures that together, would help secure the nation from illegal drugs, immigration and terrorism. However, he needs some support of congressional Democrats to get any of these measures over the finish line. 

Conversely, the Democrats, who have campaigned heavily on DACA - and even used the issue as a core theme of their last convention - need Trump to help them find a path that allows DACA recipients to remain in the country, work here and puts them on the pathway to permanent residence.

As a law enforcement professional, what bothers me the most is we are allowing DACA recipients to benefit from their parents knowingly breaking the law. This is fundamentally wrong. It also means DACA cannot be a path to citizenship.

If they really want DACA, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will show up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue intent on working with President Trump and his party for changes to our immigration law.

Their actions over the next few months will reveal the truth.

Sheriff A. J. Louderback is a four-term Texas sheriff, serving citizens in Jackson County.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

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