As Allahpundit pointed out this morning, there are reasons to think President Trump isn’t especially eager to make this move, but with Democrats sticking to obstructionism as their first principle there’s really no deal to be made on this. So when Attorney General Jeff Sessions stepped before the cameras this morning, he presented this decision as the only one the administration could have made.
“I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions said. He then spoke for about 10 minutes defending that decision as a return to law and order for America.
“The executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions,” Sessions said. He continued, “Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.
“The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of minors at the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences.”
DACA was announced in 2012 and the bulk of the surge at the southern border came afterward. It’s true that the first jump in people arriving at the border preceded the announcement of DACA by several months, but that’s likely because DACA itself was preceded by another White House announcement on immigration in August 2011 which laid the groundwork for DACA.
In the midst of defending this decision to return to a law and order approach to the border, Sessions was careful to add, “This does not mean [immigrants] are bad people or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them.”
Sessions then suggested that even if the White House didn’t end DACA, it would likely be overturned in the courts. One of the reasons this announcement was made today is that several attorneys general from various states were threatening to take legal action against the program. From the NY Times:
“It’s not about the policy; it’s about the Constitution,” said Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, who accused Mr. Obama of abusing his power by circumventing Congress to create law. “The fact is, there is no statute authorizing this.”
Mr. Paxton was joined by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, as well as Idaho Gov. C. L. Otter, in a June 29 letter to Mr. Sessions urging the White House to start phasing out DACA by Sept. 5 or face a lawsuit.
Having met the deadline specified by the anti-DACA attorneys general, the White House now faces a lawsuit by the pro-DACA attorneys general of New York and California.
As expected, Sessions made clear that he was announcing a “wind down” not an immediate cessation of the program. The six-month delay is meant to give Congress time to act on this. That was emphasized by President Trump on Twitter this morning:
Congress, get ready to do your job – DACA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2017
The question that remains is this: Having ended DACA will Trump now use the bully pulpit to push Congress to protect so-called Dreamers. His tweet above is non-committal. He’s calling on Congress to act but not demanding they show the “heart” which AG Sessions says a return to constitutional order restricts the executive from showing in this case. No doubt the president will be asked about that many times over the next six months.
Here’s the full announcement by AG Sessions: