Dismantle DACA Once and for All

Are Republicans in Congress about to grant amnesty to the 800,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program?

A year ago, the question would have been unthinkable as Republicans rode the majority wave to the House, Senate, and the White House, in part because of their fierce opposition to DACA’s illegality.

Recent reports make clear, however, that DACA will be first on the agenda as Congress returns to work this month.

For their part, Democrats are thrilled. Many of them have been agitating for amnesty since President Obama implemented the program in 2012; some Democrats wanted to force a government shutdown over the issue at the end of last year.

Democrats have argued for years that these so-called “Dreamers” are, as President Obama put it, “Americans … in every single way but one: on paper.” He went on to call them “talented, driven, patriotic young people” who have “studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of [their] class.”

How unfair is it, Obama lamented, that these illegal immigrants would “suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country [they] know nothing about, with a language that [they] may not even speak.”

The five years since DACA was implemented, however, demonstrate that these claims, the rhetoric, and the policy hardly reflect reality.

For starters, a majority of DACA recipients aren’t young people. They’re adults, between the ages of 21 and 25.

While some of them are indeed highly educated and capable of contributing to the economy, most of them are not, possibly because the Obama administration routinely waived DACA’s education requirements for many applicants.

As a result, less than half of current DACA recipients have a high school education, despite a majority of them being adults. Moreover, an ongoing study by Harvard researcher Roberto G. Gonzalez found that, among the DACA recipients enrolled in high school, the dropout rate is nearly four times the national average. Likewise, only 20 percent have earned a bachelor’s degree, compared to about 32 percent of Americans who do.  

The high drop-out rates and low educational attainment may have something to do with the lack of English fluency among the DACA population.

DACA itself does not require English fluency for an application. According to one study, 46 percent of DACA recipients have only basic English ability, and 24 percent of the DACA-eligible population is functionally illiterate.

These aren’t quite the “American in all but name,” college valedictorians that President Obama made them out to be. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that one-fifth of DACA-eligible illegal immigrants will be on food stamps in the next 10 years, costing taxpayers nearly $26 billion.

DACA recipients have also proven to be a troubling security threat.

Democrats continue to claim that DACA immigrants are model citizens, which is perhaps why the Obama Department of Homeland Security barely vetted any DACA applicants before handing out administrative amnesty.

According to documents released in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Request, the Obama Administration carried out a “lean and light” system of background checks—a cursory review that resulted in only a few DACA applicants ever being fully vetted.

The results of such a low bar speak for themselves. In May, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested three DACA immigrants in a nationwide sweep of gangs, and announced that approximately 1,500 DACA recipients had their deferred status terminated due to “criminality or gang affiliation concerns.”

By August, that number had reached 2,139.

It is clear that DACA, as a policy, has been a failure. It has served both the citizen and immigration populations poorly, failing to address the individual humanitarian cases for individual applicants, and subjecting U.S. citizens to additional burdens and criminal activity.

As Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies put it recently, DACA “is a blunt instrument that protects some who can be described as sympathetic youth as well as a less sympathetic group who are more akin to ordinary illegal immigrants.”

President Trump in 2016 ran on the idea that DACA was a lawless and insufficient remedy to a deep and fundamental problem. Congressional Republicans did the same. A collective amnesia on the part of Republicans will not only hurt them in the 2018 midterms and it will damage the party’s remaining credibility for decades, if not generations.

That the American immigration system is in need of reform is without question. That amnesty in any form will accomplish this is a false and misleading premise.

As Republicans plan their 2018 agenda, three things need to be on their minds: the promises they made, the policies they committed to, and the consequences that await them if they choose an alternative path.

About Rachel Bovard

Rachel Bovard is senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute and Senior Advisor to the Internet Accountability Project. Beginning in 2006, she served in both the House and Senate in various roles including as legislative director for Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and policy director for the Senate Steering Committee under the successive chairmanships of Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), where she advised Committee members on strategy related to floor procedure and policy matters. In the House, she worked as senior legislative assistant to Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-Il.), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas). She is the former director of policy services for the Heritage Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelBovard.

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30 responses to “Dismantle DACA Once and for All”

  1. “…suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country [they] know nothing about,” ( why do they celebrate quinceneras? ) “with a language that [they] may not even speak.” How do they communicate with patents who refuse to learn English?
    We’re not stupid!

    • But they play us…
      And the Patriotic TAXpayers suffer for it.
      President Trump, MAGA
      Drain the swamp, and flush the D******D toilet!
      Get rid of the GARBAGE!
      And Congress~~ pay attention!
      YOUR day is coming!

  2. Unfortunately, a limited DACA amnesty, granting them some sort of status, may be necessary to secure the wall.

    If there’s no wall, there should be no amnesty and there shouldn’t be an amnesty, generally.

  3. Send them back to country of origin. If language is a problem, well let them go to school there and learn spanish / whatever as a second language.
    But why worry about it, just DEMAND that their origin country change languages for them.
    And let them ask THEIR parents why this all happened. IT AINT OUR PROBLEM.
    ~~~dream act , my @$$, it’s a nightmare!

  4. There is little doubt in my mind that we are going to be sold out on DACA. What is extremely depressing to me is the horrible immigration voting records of REPUBLICAN Senators based on Numbers USA data. It is criminal that the American people have few people in Congress representing their views on immigration.

  5. Sorting these criminals is a pain in the butt and waste of resources. Just pick the third-world dump farthest away from here and ship them all there at once.

  6. American granted illegals amnesty in 1986–for the last time, we were told–in exchange for sealing the border and cracking down on businesses that hired illegals. We got one for three–and a four-fold (at least) increase in the number of illegal DEMANDING amnesty. Those who refuse those demands? Bigots and xenophobes.

    Nuts to all of it. Moreover, it’s time to stop using the word “dreamers” which is pure leftist propaganda. Everyone has dreams, and mine is to live in a country where the rule of law prevails.

  7. Put them through the same selective immigration screen Trump is proposing for all other prospective immigrants. If they fail, they out of here.

  8. It is always politically correct to mention that not all of a given class of people are criminals or uneducated as shown here: “some of them are indeed highly educated and capable of contributing to the economy, most of them are not”.

    However they are ALL law breakers and invaders. They must be deported never to reutrn to our country because they broke our laws. PERIOD.

    Semper Fi,

  9. Out Damned spot. Send them, along with the parents who brought them here illegally, back to country of origin. Let them begin the process like everyone else – I would concede to putting them in line as of the date they became DACAs but nothing more. They have to go because you can rest assured, they will be the most vocal and visible demonstrators forever..we have enough identity politics today – we surely do not need hundreds of thousands of people with nothing more to do (since many are on public assistance) than disrupt our society.

  10. DACA of 800,000 should become a 300,000 year quota for 2.6 years to make it manageable, all those who apply by a dead line up to 300,000 year one and so on, but the wall needs to be in place to stop others OTM’S ,Other than mexican, drugs etc. A LOT COME FROM OTHER COUNTRIES SNEEKING INTO THE USA.

  11. It would not be fair to move DACA ahead of many others who are legally here and applied for citizenship, unless immigration is booked up with more agents just to handle DACA personnel, then you could have a parallel path of legal and DACA.

  12. 1. These DACA YOUNG ADULTS IF THEY WORKED HAVE THEY PAID THEIR TAXES? dO THEY HAVE A Social Security CARD?, ARE THEY EMPLOYED OR IN SCHOOL? Those under the age of 18 should be first, thus we process all the kids , then by age range 18-21, 21-30, 30-50 if any.

  13. It should not be just a blanket amnesty, but where is the DACA hearts do they want to stay here or go home a question to be asked, if here then OK, line up follow the Fed/State pending policy for becoming a US citizen.

  14. Where are the parents of these DACA children? Also here illegally? Find them and prosecute them for their crimes. Then many more will self-deport, it’s better to leave before the jail sentence, than after the prison term.

  15. Democrats we along the southern border have a lot of crime committed by illegals, place yourselves and your family,you would not want any harm come to you or your family, right, then do the right thing and fund the wall to keep out A.drugs, B. OTM’S ILLEGAL CROSSERS come from Mid Eastern and Asian, Africa countries, therefore, we need a wall to A. stop B. slow them down whereby law enforcement can have a better management of the border, a lot of the crimes are committed by illegals robing/killing people, gas stations convenience stores and more. So do your part to stop it, fund the WALL.

  16. Deport!!! Take your lawlessness with you. You aren’t good enough to be Americans if you think you don’t have to follow laws.

  17. Goody, goody…..where do we go to see them off? Is it somewhere in the America that is great again???? Ms.Bovard: You should be ashamed of yourself, but I bet you’re not.

  18. We don’t give blanket amnesty to U.S. citizens who break the law, why on earth would we do it for non-citizens?
    Make no mistake about it, entry into the United States without proper documentation and review is against the Law.
    Nearly everyone,(except liberal politicians), know that when you reward bad behavior, you get more bad behavior.
    Where does that leave the law abidding immigrant, who jumps through all the hoops, and waits in line for his/her visa?

  19. Any form of amnesty will bury the Republicans. The American People are not suffering from amnesia! We remember very well every promise that was made and the only reason Trump won the election was his stand on immigration! He better not forget that!

  20. Rethinking Immigration

    The present immigration issue is as big an issue as was the decision to invade Iraq. It divides rather than unites the country. Rather than continue fueling it with the heated rhetoric of politics and the impending elections, we need a breather. Step back and let “our better angels” work on a solution. The problem needs to be parsed into separate actionable pieces and analyzed.

    Begin with the economic. The demand for labor here in the U.S., and the price industries are willing to pay for it, defies the control systems presently installed. The magnet of economic opportunity here is just too strong to hold back the foreign workforce yearning for opportunity. U.S. industries want what these foreign workers offer – labor at prices that allow them to profit, compete economically, survive, and grow. The present trade in illegal drugs mirrors the immigrant industry. Many want it, and get it, despite massive expenditures by government to save U.S. consumers from following their “evil angels.”

    A few facts. To cross the border, traffickers in illegal workers, “coyotes” to the cognoscenti, are charging $7,500 to $10,000 per passage. For that, an “illegal” needs to travel perhaps a month to the border, cross rivers in rafts when most do not know how to swim, suffer trailer rides of packed humanity for days without food or facilities, walk across deserts, and risk their entire enterprise only to be frustrated by a diligent border patrol. That kind of a motivated worker is to die for.

    On the other hand, U.S. industries present a demand for workers not readily available in sufficient numbers at the wages they are offering to U.S. citizens. An unemployed American is not prepared to give up his leisure, poor and substandard as the “safety net” assures, for the pay illegals are accepting. It isn’t much, but $10 to $15 an hour is a lot better than the $3 to $5 a day back home. Recognize also that, in addition, the 4 to 8 percent of the U.S. workforce defined as unemployed just don’t have the motivation to do the hard work that immigrants are willing to accept at the risk of losing their lives and meager fortune. Put another way, if you build a barrier, the “illegals” and an enterprising American industry will beat it.

    What to do. First, re-frame the question. How do we meet the demand for labor here without increasing unemployment or a reduction in wages? A simple answer is to limit supply (immigrants) as unemployment increases, say, above 6 percent. There are multiple markets with different demands and wage rates for workers with skills. The system for authorizing the number of immigrant visas can respond by authorizing visas by skill and wage rate.

    Say that there is a market value for permission to immigrate to the U.S. (There is, witness what illegals are willing to pay already.) Say further that a market for buying and selling visas to the U.S. is legally recognized and monitored.. A potential immigrant or employer could bid for a worker visa(s). The supply of visas would be based on the demand by skill for workers manifested by U.S. industries without triggering wage reductions or increased unemployment. This needs elaboration, but you get the idea.

    Interestingly, were a market for visas to exist, those already in line for visas could be compensated by giving them a priority claim for a visa under the market system. They could have the option of selling their position in line to late arrivals. Those presently illegal in the U.S.could bid for a visa to become legal entries from those in the front of the line.

    Let’s take on the security issue. Of all the misdirected issues and proposed legislation, this one takes the cake. Here we have the government defending the ramparts of the border(s) while any terrorist with an I.Q. of 50 can circumvent it. Come as a tourist. Come as a student. Those types of visas can be had. Remember that all of the terrorist that acted out their fervor on both World Trade Center attacks got into the country legally.

    And what about all those terrorist already in the country, many of them home grown? There are those like the domestic Kansas City terrorists, the environmental terrorist of today, the anarchy terrorist of the 60’s, even criminal “terrorist” working the streets selling killer drugs, and violent sex. Our response to these types of terrorist groups is to look away and wait for them to act before we harness our domestic protective services to seek them out.

    More to the point, we actually seek to disarm our security systems in key ways by making it difficult or impossible for them to seek out such cells using profiling systems that work on existing data mining technology to scan for groups or individuals that have behavior patterns of criminal terrorists. Our paranoia over the protection of privacy is such that we will not let government do what private industry already does on their own with impunity.

    Think of it. We distrust our government which we own and can mandate, but give a free hand to all other organizations. You think this isn’t’ true? Well check out the information that marketing organizations have on your consumer behavior. Check out the financial records credit organizations and your bank have on your economic value. Check out what political operatives have on your voting behavior, registration, and past record of contributions. Hell, go to the internet and google your name. You’d be “surprised” how public your life is. But allow government to pursue terrorist using these existing data bases, and you, the media, and politicians go bonkers. Our paranoia over privacy is not only illusory, it is crippling our efforts to protect us from terrorist and the common criminal.

    For a moment, think of the information the government holds and retains in its files on you as an individual. It has your income and tax statements from the time you began working. It knows where you worked and where you lived. It has your criminal record if you have one. Under Medicaid and Medicare, it knows who your doctor is, what treatments you’ve received, and the medicines you take. But this data cannot be accessed legally for purposes other than for the service it was set up to serve. Actually, there are specific exceptions authorized by law. Tracking on fathers defaulting on child support is one of them. There should be more.

    Why we won’t use these data for identifying and tracking criminals and terrorists is a monument to our exaggerated paranoia. I mean, come on! Those charged with keeping publicly maintained files have a remarkable record of successfully limiting their access. They have developed systems for identifying when they are accessed illegally and by whom. And the law allows the government to come down hard on violators with jail sentences and fines. So effective have been such safeguards that the private sector has had to develop entire systems that duplicate that which public systems had already. Your credit report is an example, .

    What we need is to “get over it.” Information on Individuals isn’t and never was private. What we need to do is to authorize government to access and expand their use of existing machine readable data for the purpose of searching out terrorist and criminal elements, among other uses. We need to go further. To facilitate these authorized uses, it is critical that a national identification system be established.

    The need for a national identification system is needed not just for purposes of security. Other uses become possible and could be authorized. Obviously the system could allow for the registration of permanent or temporary immigrants, and could provide the system for employers to validate the identification of individuals eligible for employment. In addition, the system could be an accurate system for maintaining eligible voter registers. It could be the basis for an efficient drivers license system for the states. It could be the locus for individual medical records with an ability to cut costs for administration and medical care resulting from unnecessary repetitive services, over medication, and errors in diagnosis.. Should individuals wish to limit access to their records, access could be restricted subject to the approval by individuals or the courts. Violations could be subjected to heavy fines and jail sentences. Such safeguards already exist and are being used to protect your data stored, for example, by the Social Security Administration. And think of the budgetary savings through the elimination of duplicate data bases, systems, and bureaucracies. That, like the stars, are “billions and billions.”

    Let’s now focus on the politics of immigration. What is at play is the additional cost that immigrants allegedly represent to our expenditures for public education, health, and other safety net services,. What is also at play is the country’s ability to absorb and indoctrinate newly arriving immigrants to American values and systems. What is at play is the right to vote.

    Let’s take on the additional budgetary expenditures. Recent articles have claimed that immigrant worker represents an annual cost to the government of about $20,000. Let’s accept that estimate. At the same time let’s also recognize that these workers probably earn about $20,000 to $30,000 annually. If they are on a payroll, they would be paying federal and state taxes, and may even be paying contributions to the Social Security system. If they don’t file an annual income tax report, they get no refund. If they are using a false Social Security number, they are contributing to a benefit system they may never receive. That contribution alone could amount to about 15 percent of their wages, split between them and their employer. They are paying sales taxes imposed by the states. They are paying the gasoline tax should they be running a car. All this suggests that they are not having a totally free ride on the economy.

    We also might recognize that an able bodied worker isn’t costless. Growing up for 18 years costs. We pay at least $10,000 annually per individual from public and private sources for each of our 18 year olds. More likely it is double that. That means that $180,000 to $360,000 has been invested per able bodied American. We pay nothing for the immigrant. At least ten years would have to pass before the “capital” costs for a migrant would be “re-paid.”

    Now, if a worker is educated, say, with a BA, that probably represents an additional expenditure minimally of roughly $20,000 a year for four years, e.g., $80,000 more per U.S. BA. The immigrant with a BA is free. Take it a step further. A physician requires four to eight years of additional training that probably costs more than $40,000 a year. Add $160,000 to $320,000. And then there are all those biochemist, computer scientist, nurses, engineers…… Suffice to say, immigrants at these levels of training are a steal.

    But can we risk the mutation of our culture by letting all these non-Americans to enter the country? Well, let’s think about it. Is the absorption of 12 million “illegals” too big a bite to take in one fell swoop? First off, recognize that we already had that meal and seem not to be suffering from indigestion. These “illegals”are 1 out of 25 people in the country, and many of them do not stay. Looking back three generations, most of what we now call Americans came from similar immigrant roots. The country’s ability to shape past immigrants and their children into citizens is the American phenomena. Those “illegals” who will decide to stay have already put a lot of their working lives into getting along in this country. Many have learned to speak English. Some have raised families, and have paid taxes for years. In a generation or two, their children won’t speak their native language, and probably won’t want to. They would resemble bedrock of Americans going to work, going to Church, buying houses, eating, sleeping and having kids. You won’t be able to tell the difference between them and your neighbor. They already are.

    What “illegals” – and we – need is a way to mend a mistake they – and we – made years ago. They will have to pay a price to become “legal.” We, on the other hand, have to recognize that we turned a blind eye to their existence and let them in to serve us. Both of us need to make amends by defining an acceptable the path to “legality.” The overwhelming majority of “illegals” will likely salute and take it.

    Finally, there is the matter of citizenship and the right to vote. This privileges for a time may play a part of the price of atonement for illegal entry into the country. But, once the debt has been paid for illegal entry, a workable procedure can be fashioned for them to earn legal immigrant status, Citizenship for these working residents in time, and under the right conditions, may ultimately be justified. As willing workers, they are the “salt of earth.”. Many already are “Americans.” They ought to have the opportunity to earn the right to be citizens.

    Jaime L. Manzano
    Federal Senior Executive and Foreign Service Officer (Retired)
    Bethesda, MD

    301 365 4781

  21. This might appear off topic, but not really. Human nature will overrule reason and logic, therefore civil war is in our future – https://crushlimbraw.blogspot.com/search?q=Migration+war&m=0 – the facts of history are impersonal.
    Only a small minority of us focus on the larger picture and here it is – the 65 million plus since 1965 is the largest migratory invasion in history – and history says war is inevitable because we don’t have the guts to do what is necessary to prevent it.

  22. Great article by Rachael Bovard, a ton of factual information.

  23. I don’t pretend to understand these latest machinations, but for the President to put DACA amnesty on the table for any set of concessions is politically very dangerous and potentially very hurtful to him and his larger agenda. Why give Democrats any control over such a vital issue? Why risk a sizable segment of your base’s support and trust?

    So let’s see, if I can understand this debate. DACA supporters from both parties want DACA, but for very different reasons. All of these same, above mentioned DACA supporters and interests have also opposed candidate Trump and have continued to oppose him over the past year while he has been President. And, they have opposed him at every turn, hoping to see him weakened, hampered and unable to implement his agenda.

    And then there are his supporters, the ones who elected him and have faithfully stood shoulder to shoulder with him, supporting him during his first year in office. Who might anyone expect President Trump to choose to support? On which side might anyone expect him to come down?

    This same, loyal base doesn’t want any DACA, anyway, under any conditions. They just don’t and, any compromise will almost certainly alienate a significant number of these hard core supporters. They are a significant segment of President Trump’s constituency, some only out back up in the hills away. Nevertheless, the President needs them. He needs their numbers, but he needs their intensity and depth even more. A good many things make President Trump American, but these supporters make him American on a deeper level.

    You see, they are on the ground and the realization is beginning to come to them, slowly, but surely. “Them’s” on the ground: control the ground. The earth truly does belong to the living. Now the media is trying to tell me President Trump is expected to sacrifice that level of embedded support for what? Some feel good, political homily and promises from a liberal elite and, or in consideration of the convenience of those political adversaries profiting from the cheap, but reliable, illegal labor for their service industry. I don’t think so.

    DACA is illegal. The President doesn’t have to do anything, not a damn thing. That’s how the issue comes to him. Just step away Mr. President. Allow the law to be enforced as resources and local ICE officials decide. His base will close ranks again, continue to love and support him. Dems and Republican globalist elites, who didn’t, don’t, and never will support him, will get squat. I’d say that’s politics. That’s just how it’s played. How would you do it?

    President Trump got elected because of his positions and not in spite of them. And the Democrats are where they are today for the very same reasons. We Republicans like being in charge and the Democrats can have their side of the table. All the happy talk about all the other issues and concessions is just that, happy talk from the Democrat’s media and of no significance what so ever.

    We don’t need Democratic help with any of these immigration issues. We need solidarity. If Democrats, or RINO’s want to oppose the wall, that’s on them. It will only take them down and, in the end, the President will build the wall anyway. As for any comprehensive Congressional reform of immigration law, well that’s up to the Democrats and individual RINO’S. They are certainly welcome to continue standing in opposition and then, they can try to run away from it. In the 2018 midterms they will be painted with it. They can’t hide. Those days are over. And, Republicans are way ahead, out fund raising the Dems as well. They will have the bucks to put it all out there, on the air. It’s the Republicans that will be making the big media buys this time around.

    Neither 2018, or 2020 are going to be very good years for Democrats. And, if RINO’s expect to have any access, or to bask in any glow they had better have something to offer. I would hazard to venture an opinion. I would expect the President to continue to welcome supporters both new and old as well as to frown upon those who oppose him and his agenda. For my part, it all works and it all works for me quite literally. Why in the world would he jeopardize any of this to aid Democrats and please globalists. I say he won’t.

    Thank you Mr. President. Together we will MAGA