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viewpoint

Statement on Trump ending DACA

| Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Trump Administration has ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), effective in six months. DACA allows “Dreamers” who came to the United States as children and who met several requirements to request consideration of deferred action from deportation for a renewable period of two years.

The decision to end DACA is ill-conceived for at least two reasons: First, fundamental fairness and compassion and second, economic policy. It exposes Dreamers to deportation who are not morally culpable and yet have contributed meaningfully to America, and it reallocates limited government resources to low-priority cases.

In order to be considered for temporary deferral under DACA, Dreamers had to lack moral blameworthiness. They came to the United States before their 16th birthday. Today, they are students, graduates or veterans, have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor and have chosen to self-identify to the Department of Homeland Security. Echoing this, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma noted, “Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.”

Allowing Dreamers to work also makes sound economic sense. Perhaps this is why 400 business executives, including leaders from Apple, Facebook and Amazon, have formally petitioned Trump and pledged to “Stand with Dreamers.” The Trump Administration’s budget proposal is premised on economic growth. To that end, Dreamers stimulate economic growth, in part by creating synergies in the workplace and supporting Americans jobs and contributing billions of dollars to the nation’s gross domestic product.

Ultimately, ending DACA causes a reallocation in federal spending that defies logic. Not only will we lose billions of dollars in taxes paid by Dreamers, but we will also squander what is left. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants in America; we simply do not have the money to deport everyone. Admitting this, the Executive can use lawful discretion to focus on deporting the alleged “drug dealers, criminals and rapists” he identified, rather than deporting individuals who were brought to America as children and who have made a positive contribution to our country ever since.

We are proud members of the Notre Dame community, which have pledged to support DACA students financially, academically and legally, even if the federal government fails to; and we agree that such a failure would be “foolish, cruel and un-American.”

Hispanic Law Students Association at Notre Dame Law School

Jimmy Gurulé

law professor

Daniela Peinado

3rd year law student

Ashley Pileika

3rd year law student

Peter Gonzales

2nd year law student

Nicole Marcos

3rd year law student

Natalia Fernandez-de-Cordova

3rd year law student

Jessica Sirianni

3rd year law student

Veronica Canton

3rd year law student

D’Asia Bellamy

2nd year law student

Cristina Sanchez

2nd year law student

Sept. 6

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • Edward A. Zych

    DACA was an Obama Executive Order on immigration. Only Congress can legislate on immigration. Therefore, DACA was unconstitutional. All that President Trump did was to ask Congress to do their job. It is disconcerting that ND Law Professors and students either don’t know this or completely disregard it.

    • Matt Gordon

      Serious question: How would a sitting present direct the relevant federal agencies to faithfully execute Congress’s immigration legislation if not through executive order? Also, if I remember correctly, then-president Obama justified his administration’s deferred deportation of the “Dreamers” as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, because Dreamers were of relatively low-priority (i.e. threat to homeland security).

      • Edward A. Zych

        Your first point is not relevant because there is no congressional legislation regarding this issue. In regards to your second point, prosecutorial discretion is a very limited legal concept. To say that Obama and his administration abused this concept is to put it mildly. We say we are a country of laws. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if each new presidential administration would pick and choose, on a broad spectrum, which laws it would enforce and which laws it wouldn’t enforce. If you don’t like the law, then seek to have it changed.

        • Matt Gordon

          I disagree that prosecutorial discretion is a very limited legal concept. Prosecutors at every level of government have broad authority regarding whether or not to press charges against criminal defendants. I’m not aware of any provisions that definitively require prosecutors to seek an indictment in certain scenarios. Any such provisions would arguably infringe on our constitutional separation of powers. This discretion coupled with inherently limited agency resources would suggest the need to prioritize which cases to pursue. While I agree that arbitrary enforcement of laws would be problematic, our hierarchy of criminal offenses and the real world constraints of administering justice are undeniable. In the case of DACA, deferring deportations of Dreamers under certain conditions in order to focus on greater threats to border security is arguably a constitutionally permitted exercise of prosecutorial discretion. I agree with you though that guidance from Congress is always ideal.

          • Edward A. Zych

            You’re mixing apples and oranges.There is a difference between not enforcing a particular law as opposed to not seeking an indictment in a case where, in the opinion of the prosecutor, there might not be enough evidence to seek prosecution. “Not enforcing the law” is a very limited legal situation. .On the other hand, a prosecutor has a lot more latitude on whether or not to seek an indictment based on the facts of a given case.

          • Matt Gordon

            Specifically though, which federal law did DACA negate or refuse to enforce? Again, I’m not aware of any U.S. code that unambiguously requires deportation of undocumented people within American borders.

          • Edward A. Zych

            Seriously!!! Illegal aliens are deported every day. DACA sought to give them amnesty. Something only Congress can do.

          • Matt Gordon

            Refusing to enforce a law, which you suggested DACA does, is a separate legal issue from whether or not DACA granted amnesty without congressional approval. For the record, a federal court never ruled that DACA was unconstitutional. However, regarding deportation and prosecutorial discretion, the Supreme Court has ruled that “a principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials…Federal officials as an initial matter, must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.” Arizona v. United States (2012). The legality of DACA is much more complex and nuanced than your original comment suggested.