Pro-DACA protestors outside the Neil Smith Federal Building in Des Moines, IA.
Photo credit: Shane Vander Hart

The Trump Administration announced a six-month wind-down of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012 through executive action. The program allowed illegal immigrants who arrived as minors to receive a two-year renewable period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit. As of June 2016, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services received 844,931 intitial requests and approved 741,546 of them.

What this means is that U.S. Customs and Immigration Services are no longer taking initial applications, but properly submitted initial requests made before today will still be considered on a case by case basis. Also, current beneficiaries of DACA whose benefits expire between September 5, 2017, through March 5, 2018, will still be considered for renewal if they submit their request by October 5, 2017.

Two thoughts.

DACA implemented by executive action is unconstitutional.

President Donald Trump is right to wind-down the DACA program implemented by executive order. Regardless of whether one supports the ideas behind DACA or not implementing a program by executive order is unconstitutional. The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the authority to enact immigration law. The President’s job is to enforce the law. President Obama took it upon himself to delay deportation of those who could be lawfully deported, worse yet, he ordered the federal government to issue work permits for those who were not legally eligible.

We are a nation of laws, and President Obama’s actions were unlawful.

Children shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their parents.

I think it is pretty callous to expect someone who came to the United States, albeit illegally, as say an infant, toddler, or preschooler to be deported when they are in their late teens or twenties now. Those kids are essentially American and know no other country.

There is no denying that children are negatively impacted by poor decisions their parents make. Children of prisoners, for instance, suffer through the loss of a parent by incarceration. They experience a loss of income, as well as, the stigma of having a parent in prison.

For much of 20-year youth ministry career, I worked to extend mercy to those children. Although those children experienced some adverse effects of a parent’s incarceration, there is universal agreement that these kids should not be incarcerated along with that parent.

How deportation different? A minor brought into the United States illegally did not have a choice in the matter. It was not their decision, and some believe they should experience the same consequences as their parents. That is simply not right, it is not just, and it lacks compassion.

That said, under current law, there is no choice, but to deport these kids. Like I said before, we are a nation of laws.

The law should change, and Congress should work to address this and will need to find a bipartisan compromise for legislation to pass. President Trump has given them six months to do just that.

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