Immigration: The GOP's War On DACA And Dreamers

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Ted Cruz -- "wacko bird" goes mainstream or vice versa?Yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) made clear that ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was his “top priority” and that eviscerating deportation protections for Dreamers must be a component piece of any congressional action dealing with the Central American child refugees.

Far from a “wacko bird,” to borrow Senator John McCain’s characterization of Senator Cruz, his position on ending DACA and deporting Dreamers is now the Republican mainstream stance.

Politico reports: Even though Cruz is the leading conservative provocateur in the Senate, he is well within the mainstream of the GOP in raising concerns over the 2012 program. Critics say the White House provoked the crisis by giving undocumented children false hope they can live in the country without fear of deportation.

That critique was discussed at length at a closed-door Senate GOP lunch on Wednesday, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) making a presentation to her colleagues on the situation, senators said. According to a chart the moderate senator distributed to her colleagues, apprehensions of children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have more than doubled since the directive was issued two years ago.

That policy applies only to certain undocumented immigrants who arrived to the United States as young people and who have resided continuously in the country from 2007.

After the briefing, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 3 in GOP leadership, seemed open to the Cruz idea to gut the administration’s 2012 program in exchange for border funds. “People are discussing the wisdom of that being part of the solution,” Thune said. “Reversing that decision is going to be pretty fundamental to changing the … message that we’re sending to some of those countries.”

Also joining Sen. Cruz in blaming DACA, directly or indirectly, is a wide swath of the Republican Party:

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) said in late June, “The president’s own executive orders have led directly to the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, giving false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally, they will be allowed to stay.”

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) recently said, “President Obama could quell the border crisis by halting his abuses of prosecutorial discretion, actually enforcing our immigration laws within the interior of the United States, and starting to crack down on fraudulent asylum claims—all of which he has the authority to do now."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) circulated a letter among his colleagues demanding the repeal of DACA and the deportation of DREAMers: "[T]he very existence of the program contradicts present law and violates the Constitutional principle of a separation of powers which grants primary law making authority to the Congress. The Executive does not get to pick and choose which laws must be enforced and which can be selectively ignored. .. DACA rewards families and individuals who have broken our laws, further encouraging others to seek similar benefits," he wrote, adding, “Your continued commitment to circumvent Congress and implement policies contrary to the intent of immigration law sends foreign nationals the false hope that administrative amnesty is possible.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, told the Wall Street Journal that the administration had encouraged these children by relaxing deportations for some in the U.S. illegally and by encouraging an overhaul of immigration law. "It is beyond dispute that such a narrative shapes behavior and encourages people to come to our country illegally," he said.

Rep. Steve King R-IA: As early as June 2012, King was attempting to defund DACA and subject Dreamers to deportation.  King said back then in a Facebook Post: "The administration has directed law enforcement officials to provide amnesty to illegal aliens unless they pose a threat to the President's reelection. This amendment will begin to reverse the damage already done while setting our nation back on the right path." Adding in June 2013 during a speech on the House floor that the “The President has suspend immigration law by the stroke executive amnesty."  Twice this Congress, Speaker Boehner has scheduled votes on measures from Rep. King to defund DACA.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): In 2012, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said, "Well, let me assuage concerns by the Anti-Defamation League, but the policies of this administration are luring young people—children—into this country, mainly being sent by adults, because of the policy of trying to create amnesty for children."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): In 2011, Senator Jeff Sessions released a report documenting that the “Obama Regime’s Administrative Amnesty” is much wider that previously understood.  Recently, he wrote to his colleagues: “Certainly, DACA and the President’s other numerous unlawful policies must be terminated…But as a first step, Congress must not acquiesce to spending more taxpayer dollars until the President unequivocally rescinds his threat of more illegal executive action.”

Perhaps Senator Cruz – and the GOPers who are parroting his position – should heed the Senator’s own political analysis.

Shortly after the 2012 elections, Senator Cruz told Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker, “If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community, in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state…If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House…The Republican Party would cease to exist.  We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Senator Cruz has declared war on Dreamers, who are Americans in all but paperwork.  Good luck with that, Senator.  He and others in the GOP seem to believe that a Presidential action in June 2012 on behalf of long-established young people who arrived in the U.S. before June 2007 spurred an exodus of young people from three specific Central American countries in June 2014.  Good luck explaining to Latino voters how it is sensible or just to use the occasion of an 8-year old fleeing violence and arriving at our border as rationale for trying to deport a 20-year old college student who’s been living here for a decade.”

 

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice.www.americasvoice.org 

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