The DACA Dilemma
By: StaffJanuary 25, 2018
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The DACA Dilemma

Every president leaves office with messes that need to be cleaned up, and Barack Obama was certainly no exception.  He departed with a sluggish economy, soaring debt, the lousy Iran deal, a strained relationship with Israel, and many other problems. 

But his greatest stink bomb was Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, aka DACA.  On June 15, 2012, with the stroke of his mighty pen, President Obama offered temporary sanctuary to young people who were brought to the USA illegally by their parents before they were 16.

Republicans argued that the president was vastly overstepping his authority, but the "temporary" program endured.  Conveniently, the DACA beneficiaries came to be known as "dreamers," a public relations coup that should have earned someone a promotion and bonus. 

Of course, a Hillary Clinton presidency would have enabled DACA to go on indefinitely and be expanded.  But, to the Democrats' eternal dismay, the big prize went to a man whose calling card was opposition to illegal immigration. 

By last September, when President Trump announced that the program would end in six months, there were nearly 800,000 illegal immigrants shielded from deportation.  And Democrats bizarrely decided that this was the single most important issue facing America today. 

Many Democrats recently demonstrated their willingness to shut down the entire federal government if they didn't get their way on DACA.  That didn't exactly work out the way they had planned, and Chuck Schumer was last seen eating sautéed crow in the Senate Dining Room.  But the issue is far from settled. 

Who are these "dreamers" who have become darlings of the far left and their allies in the media?  Progressives usually describe DACA recipients as model citizens, valedictorians, and gallant soldiers fighting in the United States Armed Forces.  Democrats want them to have not just legal status, but a path to full citizenship and the eventual right to vote.  To quote The Church Lady, "how convenient!" 

Meanwhile, many conservatives contend that the DACA beneficiaries are simply illegal aliens by another name and have absolutely no right to be in the USA.  Beyond that, they claim many of the "dreamers" are criminals or are taking low-wage jobs from American citizens. 

There is some truth on both sides.  Economist John Lott recently found that while "dreamers" make up about 2% of Arizona's population, they are 8% of the state's prisoners.  He concluded that illegal immigrants are far more likely to commit crimes than citizens or legal immigrants.  DACA recipients, whose average age is 25, also tend to be less educated and less skilled than native-born Americans. 

Immigration expert Mickey Kaus, writing in the Washington Post, reported that most beneficiaries are not in school and are laboring at low-wage jobs.  He added that many "dreamers" were not brought here as children, but crossed the border on their own, and that a grand total of about 900 have joined the military.  By our rudimentary math, about one-tenth of one percent of DACA beneficiaries are in uniform. 

On the other hand, the majority of those protected under DACA are certainly law-abiding people, many of them living in the only country they have ever known.  Giving them the boot would constitute cruel and unusual punishment. 

The latest poll on DACA and immigration comes from the Harvard-Harris organization, which surveyed Americans just prior to the government shutdown.  Most voters support some form of legalization for the "dreamers," but a large majority also wants less immigration overall and far tougher border security. 

Congressional leaders and President Trump will be tweeting and arguing and running toward the cameras for the next few weeks, but the general outlines of a solution seem fairly obvious. 

There will be a deal that enables non-criminal DACA beneficiaries to remain in the USA, although whether they will someday be granted full citizenship will be a bone of contention.  That would be tantamount to giving them preference over all the other eager immigrants who have been waiting in line and following all the rules. 

As a show of good faith, Republicans will probably ignore their more hawkish anti-immigration colleagues who want to penalize sanctuary cities and enact some form of Kate's Law. 

Democrats will agree that the visa lottery system, as it is currently managed, must be relegated to the dustbin of history, and that a "big, beautiful wall" is inevitable.  They will also concede that preference should be given to skilled and educated immigrants who can contribute to America on day one. 

President Barack Obama, probably illegally, started a massive new program that was intended to be temporary.  But, as the late economist Milton Friedman said, "there is nothing so permanent as a temporary government program." 

Now it's President Trump's turn to dramatically change that program in a way that does not unduly punish innocent people, most of whom were brought here involuntarily.  Everyone at the negotiating table has to remember that American citizens always take priority over illegal immigrants, no matter how heart-rending their circumstances.

So let the bargaining begin.  Or, as the recently departed Monty Hall said so many times, "Let's Make a Deal!"