Thursday, January 11, 2018

The DACA political football is the kind of messiness that ensues when principles aren't adhered to from the get-go

In the last couple of days, layer upon layer of messiness has been heaped upon the unlawful program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, initiated by the previous administration. Quite simply, DACA instructs immigration authorities to refrain from taking deportation measures in the cases of people who had come to the US when younger. than 16 and had jumped through certain bureaucratic hoops.
The first layer of messiness arises from the fact that a good number of such people ('dreamers") understandably evoke our sympathy. Their educations, the friendships they've formed, any work history they've amassed, have all occurred on US soil.
The notion of bending principle - an illegal alien is an illegal alien - thus got a toehold. The discussion among everybody save for Ann Coulter consequently centered around humane ways to stem the tide of further illegal immigration.
Because Donald Trump started blathering about a "big beautiful wall" early in his campaign (in fact, during one Republican-candidates debate, it "just got a little taller"), his appeal was cemented for a swath of the voting populace that harbored resentment about the aliens' presence, particularly in the workforce, a resentment that was front and center among its public-policy concerns.
Of course, he was elected president, and the conversation between the two ends of Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue turned to options for compromising between humane treatment of "dreamers" and otherwise enforcing laws on the books.
There were some parameters around what kind of compromise was going to be possible, notably the Trump administration's intention to rescind DACA.
The bipartisan meeting Trump held with Congressional leaders the other day evoked a telling array of reactions. The above-mentioned Coulter has been in meltdown mode. Sane conservatives saw it as fairly typical behavior for a modern president: going into it with at least the public perception that he had strong views he was going to defend, but quickly demonstrating that "willingness to reach across the aisle" to hammer out something hopefully adequately palatable to everyone.
More about that meeting in a moment.
But on the heels of it came San Francisco federal judge William Alsup's ruling that the administration couldn't rescind DACA. The ruling reads more like an opinion piece in a left-leaning magazine than a legal document. Much of its position hinges on a tweet from Trump. Alsup called the rescinding move "arbitrary and capricious" even though it was based on conclusions reached by Attorney General Sessions.
The fact is that, even though Obama and Trump made moves in exact opposition to each other, they were each executive actions based on what the executive branch had determined about legality.
The administration quickly made it clear that it would take the matter to another court - SCOTUS, if necessary.
But back to the bipartisan meeting. This exchange between Trump and Senator Feinstein is causing unprecedented gnashing of teeth among DJT's populist base:

SENATOR FEINSTEIN: I think there needs to be a willingness on both sides. And I think — and I don’t know how you would feel about this, but I’d like to ask the question: What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure? Like we did back — oh, I remember when Kennedy was here and it was really a major, major effort, and it was a great disappointment that it went nowhere.
THE PRESIDENT: I remember that. I have no problem. I think that’s basically what Dick is saying. We’re going to come up with DACA. We’re going to do DACA, and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Would you be agreeable to that?
THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I would like — I would like to do that. Go ahead. I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first.
The bold language was especially troubling, because Trump was agreeing to a clean DACA bill.
It gets juicier. That transcript has now been doctored to remove what you see in boldface.

Here's the essence of the matter: The wall is not a top-priority component of a workable (that is, firm yet humane) immigration policy. Enforcement of E-Verify is far more important. If the US doesn't hold the promise of providing a livelihood, folks are going to be far less motivated to come here illegally. Resolving the DACA matter in a way that ensures that there's no resulting chain migration is the next most important item.

There are those who hearken back to Reagan's 1986 granting of amnesty to illegal aliens, and they have a point. Dutch was a giant, but he was still a human being, which means that he got some things wrong as president.

The larger point is that the camel's-nose-inside-the-tent principle applies every time an immutable principle is treated as a malleable item on a wish list. It's the reason North Korea is now a nuclear threat. It's the reason the Supreme Court was able to make up a "right" to homosexual "marriage" out of whole cloth. It's the reason our government subsidizes the manufacture of solar panels.

In short, compromise is way overrated. There's really not much in the realm of public policy that doesn't hinge on principle, and any initial nibbling around the edges of it is going to eventually lead to its getting voraciously devoured.


  1. If unlimited resources were available, a police officer could be placed upon every street corner and every law -- especially jay-walking -- could be strenuously enforced. Since such resources are not available, choices become inevitable.

    Some of those choices are economic (above) and some, such as a policy of breaking off high-speed pursuits when they enter and endager populated areas, are common sense. Many, like DACA, are both. To label these choices forced by necessity as "unlawful" is nonsense.

  2. Reagan granted the amnesty to favor the farmers not the workers who have lived for decades in squalor here while harvesting for da man. The same ethos applies now, when we're disgusted with the burden they've become and they are no longer useful enough to pay a relative pittance we want to be rid of them and of course it has to be so principly ugly.

  3. I know the Christian denomination I belong to is first principled enough to fight for the Dreamers and has always tried to pick up the considerable slack left by da bottom line man.

  4. Yet I realize our system always has to dump on the poor, weak, the lowly, the needy and the lost. It's called profit and some worship it. There are smooth and slick playing craps over the while she bang. It has been said that that is not at all of the Kingdom. I suppose that's another stupid thing to say. May God forgive me.

  5. Why didn't Dutch save the towns that were becoming decimated by the greatly accelerated outsourcing, offshoring and downsizing by the corporate elite all throughout the 80s, such that the eventual cultural deapair led us to seek redemption in another rich bullshitter?

  6. Yes, you're making another stupid comment: "our system always has to dump on the poor, weak, the lowly, the needy and the lost."
    Where on the planet, at any time in history, has such a huge percentage of the population enjoyed the standard of living as that which is ubiquitous in. the United States? Even those who, statistically speaking, are impoverished have cell phones, and generally flat-screen TVs. Going without heat or electricity is an intermittent circumstance that people generally move out of.
    And now I see we're digressing - and usual. Okay, I'll address the business about Dutch "saving the towns." That's not a president's job. It's not even Congress's job. It is not the role of the federal government to "save towns." We have been through the discussion about why companies outsource so many times that a willful ignoring of the reasons is the only explanation for you bringing it up again.
    "Corporate elite." What an astoundingly stupid term. What the fuck does it even mean?
    Look, anybody in this country can choose to pursue any career path he or she wants to. Some choose to ply a skilled trade. Some choose to go into corporate management. Some choose to be opinion writers or jazz guitarists or instance claims adjusters, or, God knows why, work for government. There is no "elite." Just people choosing paths that they deem to suit them.
    And few if any "worship profit." Profit is merely the means by which an enterprise stays in business.
    Ditto "da bottom line man." You really pack a lot of stupid into a few brief comments. This kind of vague conjuring of some kind of generalized person who ostensibly pulls the strings in our society is juvenile and unproductive in the extreme.

  7. Da man is just slang, well recognized slang which we all know the meaning of.

  8. And some choose to be migrant farm workers with dirt floors and no hot water.

  9. The kinds of answers LITD gets when the commenter knows his position is impossibly flimsy.

  10. I'll stick with the position of my 1 Billion strong denomination.

  11. For a fundie you're sure in to Mammon ain't ya?

  12. The concept of ownership is inextricably tied to the concept of freedom, of individual sovereignty. Which is essential to the crux of our relationship to Him. Our love and adoration are worth nothing if they aren’t a product of the same power that would permit us to turn away.