Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

There is a lot that I agree with Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) on, probably most things actually. That said, I think he’s just wrong when it comes to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – not the executive program that was unconstitutional, but the concept itself.

He tweeted out yesterday when learning about a deal that President Donald Trump made with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York).

He tweeted about it again this morning.

I’m not sure when it became a “conservative” value to punish children for the sins of the parents. Children of illegal immigrants did not choose to come here, but for most of them, the United States is the only home they have ever known. So are we really going to accuse them of committing a crime? Give me a break.

I do care about the rule of law which is why I believe Congress needs to address this issue in law instead of the President taking unconstitutional action. That said status quo on this issue, I believe, is unjust for the 800,000 who came to the United States illegally as children.

I think Congressman King, and Republicans who share this view, are making a mistake for two reasons beyond it being the right and just thing to do. So at the risk of sounding craven here goes.

1. Opposition to DACA is politically stupid.

If I can’t appeal to those who oppose DACA on principle, let’s look at the politics of this. Only 15 percent of Americans want to see this segment deported according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll. 58 percent are in favor of giving them citizenship, and 18 percent are in favor of giving DREAMers some sort of legal status.

So deporting these folks, which appears to be King’s only solution, is a political non-starter.

Not to mention, when you consider the Hispanic population growth, it is in the best interest of conservatives to build bridges with that community. There are plenty of shared values, and DACA is frankly low-hanging fruit where Republicans can find some common ground on immigration. So opposing this is a missed opportunity to reach out to Hispanic voters.

2. Trump could have made a deal with Republicans.

It is also a missed opportunity for Republicans to take leadership on immigration reform. What could they get in exchange for DACA? A wall (won’t happen with a Democrat deal as we have found out)? Additional border security resources? Better visa enforcement? E-verify?

Republicans had leverage, but appear to squander it to cater to those who are on the fringes of this issue. The simple fact is this – DACA recipients are here. They are likely not going anywhere. We should be able to reasonably discuss a window and criteria for people to qualify. Obviously, it can’t be open-ended as to encourage more illegal immigration. We don’t want to incentivize it. Republican leadership on this issue could have ensured that.

We’ll now have to see what will come out of this.

Congressman King could lead on this issue. I’ve seen him compromise on other issues in order to get a better bill. Why not this?

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