President Donald Trump is set to reverse President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which allowed roughly one million “Dreamers” — illegal aliens brought into the U.S. as children — to remain in the country without being deported.
Most of the debate around DACA has focused on the humanitarian reasons — compelling, in many cases — to allow beneficiaries to stay in the only country many of them have known.
But there is a straightforward remedy for those individuals: Congress can pass a law enabling them to stay.
That is what was supposed to happen, if President Obama had respected the Constitution’s separation of powers. Instead of working with the political opposition to find a compromise most Americans would accept, Obama decided to act on his own, abusing the powers of prosecutorial discretion to grant temporary amnesty to roughly one million people.
It ought to have been different. When Obama was elected, he had a Democratic Congress and, for several months, a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Democrats favored different versions of the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act”, which would have allowed illegal alien children to stay in the U.S. based on certain conditions. But Obama, and Congress, failed to act (despite promising Latino voters they would).
By 2012, Republicans had taken the House, and the initiative. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had proposed a more conservative version of the DREAM Act, one that had the potential to pass the House in a key election year. Amnesty activists warned President Obama that he risked being outflanked, and losing their support. So rather than back Rubio’s bill and let Republicans share the credit, he created DACA, the so-called “DREAM Act by fiat.”
DACA and its successor, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), are just two examples of President Obama’s habit of circumventing the Constitution and trying to rule by executive decree.
Others include Obamacare, which passed Congress on a party-line vote, but which the Obama White House unilaterally amended; the Iran deal, which was never submitted to the Senate for ratification; and the Clean Power Plan, which Obama pushed through the Environmental Protection Agency after Congress refused to pass the climate change legislation he wanted.
These policies violated the Constitution, and Obama knew it. As Speaker of the House John Boehner pointed out at the time, Obama said 22 times that he did not have the constitutional authority to grant amnesty to illegal aliens on his own — “I am not king” — and then did so anyway, under DAPA, after his party lost the 2014 midterm elections.
With these policies, Obama violated, and nearly broke, our Constitutional system. And Democrats were perfectly happy to let it happen, as were the mainstream media. Legal scholar Jonathan Turley was the only liberal of note who said that what Obama was doing was wrong. When the Tea Party and other conservatives objected, they were mocked as “Tenthers.” (Ironically, liberals are now embracing the Tenth Amendment to fight Trump’s policies.)
Obama’s true legacy was the abuse of power by a radical clique with the help of the mainstream media. The election of Donald Trump provided a unique opportunity to reverse the damage and teach the increasingly totalitarian left a lesson about the Constitution.
Though passing laws through Congress is messy, in most circumstances it is the only legitimate way to carry out sweeping policy changes. That is why DACA must go, and be replaced by real laws.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.