When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program began, its author admitted it was a short-term fix on an issue where he could not achieve a political consensus and took an end run around the system.
“In the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization,” then-President Barack Obama said in announcing DACA. “Let’s be clear: this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship, this is not a permanent fix.”
At the time, the Senate was unable to pass large-scale immigration reforms, which spurred Obama to do through executive order what the legislative branch could not accomplish. Immigration is again returning to Congress for action after President Donald Trump announced he plans to phase out DACA, an action Obama called “cruel” in his rebuke of Trump.
Commentator Robert Laurie said Obama’s outrage “is patently, provably, phony.”
That’s because at the time, Obama never promised anyone DACA would last forever.
“This is a temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, and patriotic young people,” he said then.
In writing about the program and other executive orders, Obama proposed to allow illegal immigrants to remain, a 2014 Washington Post story noted that dangers of Obama choosing to write orders instead of pass laws.
“Neither program has backing from Congress, and that limits their scope and durability. The next president could reverse either one with the stroke of a pen,” the Post wrote on Nov. 30, 2014.
Obama himself admitted in 2014 that he was taking the second-best route to solving the problem.
“I continue to believe that the best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass that kind of common sense law,” Obama said. “But until that happens, there are actions I have the legal authority to take as President – the same kinds of actions taken by Democratic and Republican presidents before me – that will help make our immigration system more fair and more just.”
Obama at the time admitted that Congress should be doing the heavy lifting.
” … to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill,” he said.
Obama’s 2017 attack on Trump over phasing out DACA represents a change from some 2005 comments Obama made while still a senator representing Illinois.
“We all agree on the need to better secure the border and to punish employers who choose to hire illegal immigrants. You know, we’re a generous and welcoming people here in the United States, but those who’ve entered the county and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law and they are showing disregard for those who are following the law. We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States, undetected, undocumented, unchecked and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country,” Obama said.
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