Without so much as the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump has put the lives of 800,000 in limbo.
The Sept. 5 deadline for a decision had left many waiting and hoping. After promising to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program his first day in office, Trump had to face the political reality of his situation. Attacking a group of what the Department of Homeland Security estimates to be 11 million people, isn’t a great idea when you’re already one of the least popular presidents in recent history.
Instead of repealing it altogether, he has shifted the responsibility to Congress, giving members six months to act before those with deferred status start losing their protections in March 2018.
During the 2016 election, Trump said that he wanted to throw out every last undocumented person in the country; he also told many there was no need to worry if he took office.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents,” he said. “I want to move them out, and we’re going to move them back in and let them be legal, but they have to be in here legally.”
The irony in all of this? The decision probably wasn’t extreme enough for the base he continually tries to keep happy. Steve Bannon only stayed around as long as he did because of what he meant to that base.
Breitbart News seems conflicted. While the publication in general seems happy Trump took a step toward dealing with the undocumented, that step doesn’t seem to be far enough. Not so far away on the extreme-right side of the political aisle, Ann Coulter went off on a Twitter tantrum, ranting about Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling for Congress to create comprehensive immigration reform, “exactly what [Trump] used to denounce.” She went on to say Trump had betrayed his voters on the proposed border wall as well.
House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the president Monday for his decision, just a few days after publicly saying he was against the idea.
“I actually don’t think he should do that,” Ryan said of Trump’s pending DACA decision on Friday. “I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.”
The reality is, DACA was never the perfect solution. It was simply a necessity for an understaffed and underfunded Department of Homeland Security that didn’t have the time or resources to deport the 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.
According to a CNN Money article, the cost to deport each undocumented immigrant would hover around $10,000. This includes everything from feeding and housing them, as well as detaining and returning them back to their “home.”
But many of these people have already built a life and a home for themselves here. Over 90 percent of those 800,000 are employed, many of them living in America on average since they were six years old. They’ve each paid $500 registration fees just to be considered for the DACA program.
The fact that the GOP as a whole seems to be at a loss on dealing with Trump is a problem in itself. The party seems content to let Trump soak up headlines and destroy the progress previous administrations have made until he stops being useful, or his inevitable removal from office.
The callous decision comes just after Trump’s poor handling of the violence in Charlottesville, where he made sure to denounce “both sides” of an overwhelmingly one-sided debate. Trump’s decision to repeal Obama’s 2012 executive order is not about fiscal responsibility, but about appeasing his alarmingly racist base, a base that will vote for him no matter what.
As Trump famously put it, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”