In politics, the “wedge issue” is a weapon deployed to gain tactical advantage. You find some hot-button social controversy – crime, say, or gay marriage – and push it aggressively to divide the opposition and leave it dispirited. President Trump’s decision . . . to rescind an Obama-era executive order protecting 800,000 “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children – represents a variant. Call it the reverse wedge issue. Trump has applied it in the manner of a boomerang against himself and his party.
Republicans are divided over DACA. Immigration purists want nothing short of mass deportations, while political pragmatists fear that ending it will do long-term damage to innocent people and to the party.
The pragmatists are right to worry. Deportations, if they actually come up in six months when Trump’s action is set to take effect, would be a disaster at many levels. Dreamers – hardworking, U.S.-educated –are a vital part of the American economy. . . . They engender widespread support from the American public and business interests. – Trump’s DACA Reversal Won’t Only Hurt Dreamers, USA Today Editorial Board, 9/5/17. [Link]
Fact Check: Most interesting about this article is its phony solicitude toward President Trump. The truth of the matter is that USA Today is vehemently anti-Trump and supportive of mass immigration. Almost certainly it wants the president to fail.
The article suggests that Trump’s primary reason for repealing DACA is just to use it as a “wedge issue” for political gain. But could there be another reason, namely that the president believes in the Constitution and the rule of law? Regardless of what one thinks about legal status for so-called “Dreamers,” DACA was an unconstitutional edict decreed by President Obama. Under the Constitution, Congress makes laws, not the executive.
During his campaign President Trump promised to repeal this unlawful edict. This and other promises to reform immigration garnered him strong popular support. Keeping his promise should sustain that support rather than damaging it.
With the president’s action, Congress has the opportunity to vote on DACA and enact it legally if it so chooses. Its supporters say this is the right thing to do because the beneficiaries are supposed to be people who were brought to the U.S. at a young age by their illegal alien parents and therefore were not guilty of willfully breaking U.S. immigration laws.
Nevertheless, more than a few of them may not be so innocent. The Obama version of DACA has been lax in screening applicants for the program. Many may not have been young children when they came, and others may not have been eligible because of criminal records. Also, the dreamers are not commonly the high achievers that the media often portray them to be. As for their economic contributions, which are hardly vital, one should consider that they take jobs that Americans—many of them disadvantaged and low-skilled—could be doing. “Business interests” favor this amnesty for the same reason they support all amnesties. It provides them cheap labor.
Some immigration restrictions are willing to accept legal status for Dreamers on a case by case basis with proper vetting. But in exchange for this concession they want overdue steps to end illegal immigration and bring about genuine immigration reform. Two examples are making the E-Verify system mandatory and sharply reducing legal immigration. Democrats in Congress have indicated that they are not willing to compromise.
If they persist in this stand, one wonders if the media will attack them for preventing Dreamers from getting legal status. In all likelihood that won’t happen. The media, one way or another, aims to cast Trump as the villain.