Press Presses Trump on DACA, He Goes Squishy

By Joe Guzzardi
February 17, 2017
 
In last week’s rollicking press conference, President Donald Trump let the media have it with both barrels. Trump said that the media either “doesn’t get” or won’t write about his administration’s early successes. Charging the media with “out-of-control” dishonesty, Trump also said it doesn’t represent the people, but are pawns for “special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system.”
 
Sidebar observation: every time Trump attacks the press, he gains votes in 2020. Overwhelmingly, Americans share Trump’s sentiments about the media.
 
To the substance of Trump’s remarks, when asked about his plans for handling deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), the president gave disappointingly vague non-answers. DACA was President Obama’s executive action that granted temporary work permits, Social Security numbers and other affirmative benefits to about 750,000 young aliens, including removing them from the possibility of deportation.
 
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to immediately repeal DACA. But so far, he hasn’t. When asked about DACA, Trump said that he plans to handle the program with “great heart,” and stated that most of the participants are, with some exceptions, good people. To many Trump voters’ chagrin, his recent comments are a long way from his campaign pledge.
 
The mystery surrounding Trump’s inaction is deepened because, among all of Trump’s immigration objectives, ending DACA would be the easiest and fastest. U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) timed Trump when he signed 12 executive orders, and each took less than a minute. By waffling on DACA, Trump allows U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process about 800 renewals and first-time applications daily, each one representing a work permit.
 
DACA jumped back into the headlines last week when in its sweep Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina. ICE alleges that Medina, a DACA permit holder, is a self-confessed gang member; his lawyer insists that his client was coerced into admitting gang affiliation. Medina’s father, a convicted felon and deportee, was in the house during the raid, as was his brother, also a DACA recipient. But ICE arrested only the father and one of the brothers, Daniel.
 
Medina’s story is still unfolding, but his case proves that no one really knows what a DACA’s true character may be. While most DACAs are probably, as Trump put it, “incredible kids,” face-to-face interviews were never conducted, approval rates ran about 99 percent, and USCIS required applicants to list only Social Security numbers that the Social Security Administration officially issued. In other words, stolen Social Security numbers falsely used to commit identity fraud, a felony, were understandably but deviously not required as part of a DACA application.
 
Here’s what Trump should do. No new applications – none and never! DACAs are employment-authorized, while 95 million Americans are detached from the labor force. Renewals should be subject to an FBI identity history background check. Felons won’t have their DACAs reinstated; those that pass FBI scrutiny will be allowed to keep their work permits. That’s Trump’s solution to what he called “a very, very tough subject.”
 

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A Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow, Joe Guzzardi is at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

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