DACA: Obama's Political Legacy

In June 2012, the Obama administration announced a change to existing immigration policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the country before age 16 and June 2007 to receive work permits and exempted them from deportation.  These are the people who who are frequently referred to as “dreamers” although the “dream” was usually that of the adult illegally bringing them into this country.  According to Pew Research, it was estimated that close to 1.7 million people would be eligible.  In November 2014, Obama changed the rules to apply to illegal immigrants who entered the country before 2010, eliminated the requirement they be younger than 31 and extended the renewable deferral period from two to three years which added an additional 330,000 potential beneficiaries.  Currently, the DHS is not accepting any DACA applications pending resolution of a judge’s decision that the action was unconstitutional since Congress is tasked with immigration laws.

As a result of DACA, the White House established a Task Force on New Americans.  The name alone says it all- “New Americans.”  This is not a deportation deferral program, but one of amnesty for more than a potential 2 million people.  That task force is headed by Leon Rodriguez, who was an Undersecretary at Holder’s Department of Justice and Cecilia Munoz.  Since 1988, Munoz has been with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) in various capacities.  The NCLR is the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country and has connections to several well-funded Leftist organizations and individuals.  When Obama appointed her as a Domestic Policy Adviser, it received cheers from such Leftist organizations as the Center for American Progress and SEIU, the service workers union.

The task force has designed a three-prong program designed to assist the beneficiaries of DACA to fully integrate into America.  The first prong is civic engagement.  Rodriguez recently sent a letter to interested parties outlining an effort to assist DACA eligible people of the need to apply for full citizenship.  Noting that many people fail to do so because of the English language requirements and the naturalization test, the task force is lobbying that testing requirements be weakened.  They are also attempting to alleviate the English language problem with their third prong- linguistic integration.  The second prong involves economic integration by providing tools to local communities to help refugees and illegal immigrants find jobs and open businesses.  This will be achieved through AmeriCorps/VISTA personnel.

As part of the civic engagement program, the DHS is issuing $10 million in grants to local communities encouraging immigrant and refugee populations to seek citizenship and guiding them through the process.  This will then eventually grant them voting rights.

Left unmentioned except in a few areas is the Task Force’s work on refugees.  America has a long history of accepting political refugees and persecuted peoples.  However, the current thrust is in accepting refugees from Bhutan, Burma, Cuba, Somalia, Iraq and Syria.  The latter three are troublesome given the probability that terrorists, or those sympathetic to terrorism, will slip through the cracks.  The plan envisions accepting over 500,000 refugees over the life of the program, or about 70,000 a year.  DHS will be tasked with locating and settling these people and assisting their integration into American society, including eventual citizenship and voting rights.

With the Obama administration winding down, the year 2016 looks to be one of true recklessness when it comes to this administration.  Frustrated by Republican opposition to his policies in Congress, Obama will attempt to do outside the law what he cannot achieve inside the law.  Being a weak leader, he lacks the ability to sway public opinion to force changes within the Republican Party when it comes to immigration and other things.

Obama has achieved two of his three legacies- health care reform domestically and a deal with Iran (albeit, a bad one) over nuclear weapons.  He needs a political legacy- something that will strengthen his party.  That is where DACA and the recommendations of this Task Force enter the picture.  These suggestions and programs are nothing other than an attempt to deliver a possible 2 million voters to the Democratic Party- not in 2016, but in future years.

This is an under-reported effort encouraging amnesty through the back door and under the radar.  It can be stopped in 2016.  If Clinton becomes President, she is already on record as wanting to double down on Obama’s policies that brought a soft rebuke from the White House doubting she could do much more given the fact they stretched the law as far as it could be stretched.  The beauty of the whole thing is that this was achieved by executive order.  A Republican President could simply negate that executive order with his own on January 21st, 2017.  Then perhaps a true debate on immigration reform could take place and the system repaired legally.