There is a young man, let’s call him Ted. He was conceived in Los Angeles. He spent the first seven months in his mothers womb there. His grandmother became sick and so the family went to pay their last respects, and so he was born in Mexico.
Shortly after the family returned to LA. His oldest sister was born in San Francisco and his youngest sister was born just after the family moved to Detroit. About the time he entered fifth grade the family moved to Novi. He lived in Novi until he graduated from high school in 2015.
When President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Ted took advantage of the opportunity and registered as a Dreamer.
In order to be qualify for DACA, some of the things he had to prove were; That he came to the United States before his 16th birthday, that he had lived continuously in the United States since 15 June 2007, that he had was enrolled in school, had completed high school, or had been honorably discharged from the armed forces. He also had to prove that he had not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanors, and that he did not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
He proved all of it.
Ted speaks with a Midwestern accent as you would expect from a person who grew up in Michigan. Other than for the moment of his birth, he has never left the United States. The truth is, Ted is an American whose only crime is where he was born.
According to Roger Rathi, a local immigration attorney who has agreed to help Ted; “Morally, we are punishing someone for something their parents did. Legally, the status of these Dreamers is entirely up to Congress or the administration.”
And this administration has decided to end Ted’s dream.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that DACA was an “unconstitutional” act. He said he swore an oath to defend the constitution and the Department of Justice “cannot defend this overreach.”
Simply Not True
There is a problem with this statement; it’s simply not true. The proof that it is not true, comes from Sessions own Justice Department. Earlier this year, the president announced a ravel ban on individuals coming from certain countries. After the lower courts overturn the ban, the Justice Department filed an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.
In that brief, the Justice Department, citing the same general statute used by the Obama admisntration to enact DACA, said;
“Congress’s expansive grant of authority means that the President’s power “is at its maximum, for it includes all that he possesses in his own right plus all that Congress can delegate.” The brief when on; “Section 1185(a)(1) of Title 8 further grants the President broad authority to adopt ‘reasonable rules, regulations, and orders’ governing entry or removal of aliens..…”(emphais added). The Brief ended saying “But whatever one’s views……the President’s national-security and immigration authority will transcend this debate……Precisely in cases that spark such intense feelings, it is all the more critical to adhere to foundational legal rules.”
The brief’s broad claims of executive power to deny entry to people based upon their country of origin is part and parcel of that same statutory and constitutional authority that allowed President Obama to allow the Dreamers to stay.
President Trump seems to understand this, as he tweeted, that if Congress did not act, he would take another look at his decision. You can’t decide to reinstate an illegal executive action.
So, the inescapable conclusion is that this was a political, not a constitutional decision. No one was granted “amnesty”. No act of Congress was disregarded. Rather Congress gave the president the power to decide the Dreamer status and President Trump has decided to criminalize 800,000 young adult based merely on where they were born.
And worse, he is going to use the information Ted and the other dreamers gave the government to round them up and deport them.
The decision announced by Attorney General Sessions has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with politics.
Ted feels hopeless, his country, the United States is going to take his trust, and the information that he gave it and use it to send him to a foreign land for no good reason.
That is the very definition of injustice.
This blog posting was first published in Deadline Detroit. Reprinted with permission.