U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said Tuesday in an unsigned e-mail from its media office that it has continued to issue new work permits since Trump’s inauguration. The agency said it is still processing applications, as the Obama policy remains unchanged.
“We can confirm that DACA cases have been approved, and some denied, since 1/20/17,” the agency said, using an acronym for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Mark Krikorian and I made the same point yesterday: Trump doesn’t have to “cancel” or “rescind” any of Obama’s executive orders on amnesty to start keeping his promises. All he needs to do is tell USCIS not to issue any new permits to DREAMers. Remember, under the program, work permits issued to illegals expire automatically after two years. That means hundreds of DREAMers each day will lose their legal status without Trump having to do anything — and that, notes Krikorian, is important as a pressure tactic on Senate Democrats. If there’s going to be a deal in Congress to legalize DREAMers, having DREAMers suddenly at risk of deportation is a nice bit of leverage on Chuck Schumer. So long as USCIS is issuing new permits or renewing existing ones, though, that leverage is gone. So why doesn’t Trump do something about it?
“We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants,” Trump vowed in his immigration speech on August 31st last year. Suddenly border hawks face the unthinkable: He wouldn’t lie to us too, would he?
On Tuesday, NumbersUSA urged its 2 million-plus members, as well as 6 million followers on Facebook, to tweet at Trump urging him to rescind DACA, and even the Trump-friendly news outlet Breitbart ripped the administration for its DACA inaction…
“It was front and center in his campaign,” [GOP Rep. Mo] Brooks said in an interview Tuesday. “Donald Trump got a lot of votes — probably got the Republican nomination in large part — because he said he was going to be aggressive in defending our borders. One of the low-lying fruits is repealing, by executive order, the amnesty executive orders of Barack Obama, and he hasn’t done it yet.”…
“The quicker he takes the action, the less painful it’s going to be,” [GOP Rep. Steve] King said. “There was a Hispanic young lady in my district and I said I would consider adopting her, I like her so much. [But] I love the rule of law more. And we can’t have the rule of law if we let our hearts rule.”
One theory kicked around in the story excerpted above is that there’s a power struggle going on in the White House over immigration between the Priebusites, who support legalizing DREAMers, and the Bannonites, who want to end Obama’s amnesties ASAP. But that doesn’t add up. For one thing, there’s no reason to think Trump would side with Priebus over Bannon on that. Immigration enforcement is his bread and butter among the grassroots right. Siding with the former head of the RNC against the nationalists on an issue like this is poison to his populist brand. More importantly, though, the Priebus and Bannon positions aren’t all that inconsistent when it comes to suspending DACA as soon as possible. Again, as Krikorian noted, freezing the program will act as leverage for a deal in Congress, and if that deal materializes, Trump will need to make sure that he has plenty of political capital among his base to spend in shepherding it through. Every day that passes with him hesitating on the DACA freeze burns some of that capital by increasing the fear that the GOP’s amnesty shills have captured him. If he wants to make a deal, he should order the freeze now to make his fans happy and then immediately get to work with Schumer and McConnell to resolve the issue once and for all. Very strange that he’d drag his feet on this.
As I write at a bit before 8 p.m. ET, Reuters has a story out tonight noting that Trump is planning to sign some executive orders on immigration tomorrow — but nothing in the story mentions DACA or DAPA. Trump’s actions “were expected to involve restricting access to the United States for refugees and some visa holders from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen,” according to aides. That’s nice, but watching him sign a bunch of immigration orders that conspicuously doesn’t include anything on Obama’s amnesties is only going to make this problem worse for him. What is he thinking? I bet they’ll cook something up on DACA within the next 48 hours to make this go away.