Donald Trump’s recent decision to phase out Barack Obama’s DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is certain to further polarize an already deeply divided nation. Under the terms of the program, 800,000 children who were brought by their parents to the United States illegally as children were eligible to work in the United States, and any deportation measures were temporarily put on hold.
I, as a human being, feel deeply sorry for the young people, the “Dreamers” as they are called, and can imagine how painful and disappointing to hear this news. I have no doubt that many conservatives and libertarians also are troubled and conflicted by Trump‘s actions. However, as a Constitutionalist and a libertarian, those who merely berate this decision as the nth iteration of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies have few legitimate arguments when it comes to two extremely important facets of American public policy and political institutions: the rule of law, and the application of moral hazard theory.
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Trump’s myriad opponents routinely paint him as someone who tramples on the Constitution dozens of times before breakfast; someone who has little interest in following Constitutional procedures, and who is a megalomaniac who sees the Constitution as a mere obstacle to his enormous ego and the larger-than-life imprint he seeks to leave on the country. They may have a valid point in some of these regards. They accuse Trump of a casual disregard for the rule of law.
It would be far more possible to be sympathetic to their arguments if they themselves were governed by the rule of law in regard to their political proposals. Take immigration in general, and DACA in particular. Immigration law is clear. It is illegal to enter the United States without valid documentation. Many states and cities, largely with Democratic leadership have turned a blind eye to flagrant lawbreaking in the context of illegal immigration. Governor Jerry Brown in California, in particular, has encouraged illegal immigrants to enter the state with his public policy.
If you don’t like the immigration laws of the United States, then you should work to change immigration laws. We have reached a point with the apex of political correctness where we are now told it is prohibited to even use the term “illegal immigrant”…rather in the new world of thought-policing and new speak, we are told that we must use the term “undocumented immigrant.” On a practical level, this makes little difference…but it moves us one step further down the Orwellian road where the governmental, media, and cultural elites subvert true meaning.
As sad as the fate of 800,000 Dreamers is…Dreamers are entirely correct to turn their anger towards Donald Trump. All that Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are doing is enforcing the rule of law. The law of the United States does NOT say that you, as an adult, can enter the US illegally, bring your children, and that they have a right to work, study, or live in the country.
It is understandable that citizens of countries that lack the economic, social, and educational opportunities of the United States would want to bring their children to places like the US, Canada, or Western Europe. That does not make it morally, ethically, or legally correct. They are breaking the law…they are risking their own lives and those of their children…and, worst of all, they are greasing the wheels of a multi-billion dollar human trafficking industry which disdains human life and law and order.
Which brings us to the concept of moral hazard theory. Fundamentally, it is deeply distasteful to many, and not merely conservatives, to reward people for breaking the law. If the United States government says to families who broke the law and brought their children here illegally: “Well…you broke the law…but since you did…welcome aboard. Thanks for coming, and your children can now work and study here”; then we would be guilty of a great moral hypocrisy.
Worse than that, it would send precisely the wrong message to the entire developing world. If we make DACA public policy once, why wouldn’t we do it again in the future. In effect what President Obama did was to reward lawbreakers, and encourage only greater numbers of illegal immigrants in the future. That is truly frightening, and it should be of great concern to anyone who believes in the Constitution and the rule of law.
Those who work in our executive, judicial, and legislative branches, not to mention ordinary citizens…do not get to pick and choose which laws they wish to follow. Trump’s policy proposals on immigration are hardly reactionary: all he and Attorney General Sessions are asking for, is that US immigration law be enforced. It hardly seems outrageous.
There is an oft-repeated adage: “If you’re not a liberal at 20 you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.”
Yes, Donald Trump will get pilloried for this…in the media, in academia…and he’ll be villified in the Latino community. People will say that Trump has no heart…that he has and always will, only concern himself with the interests of rich, white, men such as himself. But if you are a liberal or a Democrat or a “progressive” and you do not see the problem with rewarding those who broke the law, then you have a serious problem with hypocrisy, and if you really can’t see any problems with DACA, you might have to ask yourself if you have no brain.