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September 14, 2023

For the second time, a federal judge has struck down President Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program as unconstitutional. Biden had hoped to keep it alive by making it a “regulation” instead of an executive order, but the judge ruled that there was no difference between the two, and creating such a program was the job of the legislature.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since even Obama himself repeatedly told us he had no constitutional authority to rewrite US immigration law with an executive order. And then he went ahead and did it anyway. Now, it’s twice been ruled unconstitutional…and yet, it’s still here. In fact, this latest ruling specifically does not order the government to take any action such as deportation against DACA recipients. It leaves in place the current situation in which DACA remains in force, but it can’t accept any new recipients. It proves that Ronald Reagan was right: there's nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.

Personally, I’m not unsympathetic to the idea behind DACA. I’ve long thought that it was cruel and counterproductive to force young people who were brought to the US as small children and only know our language and culture to return to a country that’s totally alien to them, especially just as they’re starting to pay income taxes to repay all the public schooling we had to provide for them. I think there should be some accommodation for that small subset of illegal immigrants who had no say over their entry and grew up as Americans.

That said, any accommodation should be written and passed by Congress, not dictated by an illegal executive order. And I certainly condemn the judicial precedent of declaring a government program to be clearly unconstitutional and then letting it continue anyway. If that’s okay, then why do we even have federal courts? Just to host groundless Trump trials?

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