We strongly support DREAMers and a policy to allow them to stay in this country, but we are disheartened by news Wednesday that the attorneys general for
15 states and the District of Columbia are suing in support of DREAMers and seeking a policy that allows them to stay in this country.
In other words, while we support the goals that they are trying to achieve we do not believe in the manner in which they are going about it.
That’s because the litigation announced by Democratic attorneys general points to a more fundamental — and disconcerting — trend in our country: The growing frequency of trying to set public policy by relying on the judicial, instead of the legislative branch of government.
The lawsuit, announced by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman comes one day after President Donald Trump’s administration, through its own attorney general, announced that it was phasing out a policy that has allowed undocumented youth to stay in our country as long as they were employed, going to school and stay out of trouble.
Called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the program was put into place by President Barack Obama in 2012 as a temporary measure to set executive priorities as it related to children who were brought into this country illegally by their parents.
These kids, now called DREAMers, grew up in this country, adhered to the laws of this country and essentially know little but what life is like inside the borders of this country.
And Obama’s policy was aimed at temporarily allowing them to pursue jobs and educations and to develop into productive adults until Congress could enact legislation that set a sound public policy related to these children.
While critics of Obama argue that he did not have the legal authority to set this policy, our concern is directed squarely at Congress. We are not being critical that Congress didn’t act the way Obama wanted it to act, we are critical that Congress failed to act at all.
The best way to deal with the concerns of critics about Obama’s authority was simply to render his actions moot by enacting meaningful legislation that established public policy over the fate of these children.
Instead, Congress abrogated its responsibilities in favor of politics and did nothing.
Shortly after Trump took office, the attorneys general of 10 Republican states, led by Texas, threatened to sue the president if he did not reverse DACA by Sept. 5.
Trump’s answer came on that very deadline day when he capitulated to these legal threats. In doing so, he left vulnerable the very children that he proclaimed to love in a tweet he sent Wednesday.
While we believe President Trump’s action only contributes to the growing anti-Hispanic xenophobia overtaking policymakers in our country, we also view his actions as an opportunity — once again — for Congress to do its job.
Ultimately, we agree with Obama’s critics that Congress has the sole authority to establish immigration policy. But with Congress’ failure to achieve any meaningful policy, we also believe Obama’s actions would have provoked Congress to act.
We believe the same thing with Trump and his actions to phase out DACA by giving Congress six months to enact a policy for these children. We are not optimistic, but we know that lawmakers are skilled at accomplishing much when they are motivated.
What we don’t want, what we find extremely troubling is what the Democratic attorneys general are now attempting to do: Set public policy through the judiciary instead of through Congress.
Both Democrats and Republicans have begun using this tactic; both sides have said they are forced to use this tactic because of an overreach by a president who is affiliated with the rival political party.
If overreach is their concern, if adhering to the U.S. Constitution is their objective, then both parties are guilty of hypocrisy by ceding constitutional authority that belongs to Congress to the judiciary.
Congress must act on immigration. And Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals should be demanding that Congress act in the name of preserving what is delineated in our Constitution.