Why Trump must end DACA
By opinion contributor Dale Wilcox
Published January 29, 2017
The rule of law is all about deterrence. So when we fail to follow it, we squander its deterring effects. With President Obama’s DACA program apparently still up and running (handing out amnesty, work permits, etc.), it’s sincerely hoped this most basic of principles hasn’t fallen victim to the left’s emotional blackmail campaign.
Ending DACA and turning off the amnesty-magnet is now more important than ever.
Obama created DACA in reaction to Congress’s “gridlock” over the DREAM Act, an amnesty bill for illegal aliens under 30 rejected no less than 24 times since 2001.
DACA replicated the main elements and criteria of the insipidly titled act, from its sentimental focus on “children” to the requirement that applicants have a GED.
While the DREAM Act granted “legal status” or permanent legalization, DACA purports to offer “legal presence”, or “temporary” legalization. The distinction’s without a difference. Obama’s strategy with the program, to use a phrase from George W. Bush about Israel’s West Bank settlements, was to create “facts on the ground” and make it as difficult as possible to reverse course in future.
When you reward bad behavior, you get more of it. Following Obama’s DACA announcement, radio and print ads began appearing south of the border selling the services of cartel-controlled “coyotes” to teenaged would-be illegal aliens. In a matter of months, the thousand or so apprehensions of unaccompanied juveniles we’d previously been seeing every year surged into the tens of thousands.
A year later, the surge reached the hundreds of thousands (not including an equal jump in “family units”). Despite Obama’s efforts to divert the flood by creating a program to fly alien minors straight from their home countries, the level of illegal entries failed to taper off and it remains at record highs today.
Now, thanks to DACA, taxpayers spend hundreds of millions annually to reunite the (mostly) uneducated minors with their (mostly) illegal alien parents in the U.S. That’s money that should have gone to support schools, hospitals, and job-training for American youth.
Should the new administration signal that it too is unwilling to enforce our immigration laws fairly, equally, and without an ageist-bent, the flood over our borders will become a torrent.
Take Mexico’s poor economic prospects. Average wages in that country are a mere 10 percent of American levels, a gap that’s likely set to jump. Why? Mexico’s rapidly dwindling Cantarell oil field, traditionally the source of 30 percent of the country’s total government expenditures. Once classified as a ‘supergiant’ alongside Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar deposit, the Cantarell field, and the well-paid union jobs it supported, is credited with finally establishing a Mexican middle-class.
Assuming the economic effects to Mexico of Trump’s promised NAFTA readjustments turn out to be banal (some critics say it’s actually been a net negative to Mexico’s poor), the drawdown of Mexican oil revenues will almost certainly push up its levels of illegal economic migration.
As for the main source countries for “unaccompanied alien minors” — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — development economists have all but given up on understanding why they can’t even come close to the achievements of neighboring Nicaragua, Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama. Without shutting off the magnet of amnesty, their mass illegal entries will also stay at flood-levels.
Instead of demanding that the federal government assist these countries with better tailored aid and grants conditioned on rooting out corruption, open-borders activists simply call for more amnesty and more illegal alien “rights.” Their lack of systematic analysis is stupefying.
While “protecting” illegal aliens from the consequences of breaking the law may make them feel good and virtuous, if they get their way on DACA the incentives for further law-breaking at our border will only increase. Economists call this the “moral hazard” problem.
Given the economic and social pressures here and across the border, we need to ensure against amnesty and the moral hazard it creates, now more than ever.
Dale Wilcox is executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative and predatory effects of unlawful immigration and ungoverned legal immigration.
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