Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dream a Lttle Dream

Charlie Chaplin and Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (1917), via ChaplinALife.com.

Call me a contrarian, but I'm convinced Trump's, or Sessions's, cancellation of Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is the best thing that could have happened with the issue, for the DACA recipients in particular, at the very least because if Trump were to have approved the program that lawsuit to stop it threatened by ten state attorneys general would surely have succeeded in the Supreme Court. Not that there are any constitutional flaws in Obama's order establishing the Dreamer category of unauthorized immigrants whose deportation is "deferred" or the argument that it's a function of normal prosecutorial discretion, but that the nine-member Court with Gorsuch is likely to be as relentlessly partisan as the old one with Scalia, and DACA survived in June 2016 only because the Court was tied, with the possible swing vote, Kennedy's against the Dreamers (I've lost track of the excellent Twitter thread that clarified this for me).

Whereas as things are, the six-month implementation delay really does give Congress a chance to act, as it should have done long ago, particularly in 2010-11, when the GOP minority filibustered it to death in line with the McConnell program of not permitting Obama a legislative victory no matter what the merits of the bill (which is why Obama ordered the DACA program in the first place; it was an emergency, and Congress was AWOL). I'm getting the impression the issue may have undergone one of those American sea changes, like marriage equality a short few years ago, and our fearless legislators can't help noticing how Dreamers are suddenly enjoying overwhelming public support—

NBC/Survey Monkey polling via Slate.
—even Trump said, "I love these kids," as he prepared to frog-march them into exile. Congress is changing too, as BooMan noted yesterday: the Freedum Caucus has lost its magic powers, and even timorous Paul Ryan isn't afraid to come out in favor. Bipartisan majorities are going to be passing emergency legislation the Freedum Caucus hates all this fall, and it's lovely that liberalization of immigration (the issue I've long thought was going to break the GOP) should be the issue that kicks it off.

It's also encouraging in what it says about Trump, which is as far as I can see that he's withdrawing from yet another area of policy formation, following health care, defense, and the budget; what he did this morning may look to some like a decision, but it's clearly a way of pretending to make one, devised by General Kelly, as we learn from Lady Maggie and Duke Glenn and the Gentlemen of the Bedchamber:

Last week, with a key court deadline looming for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, Mr. Trump, exasperated, asked his aides for “a way out” of a dilemma he created by promising to roll back the program as a presidential candidate, according to two people familiar with the exchange.
Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, who had wrestled with crafting a compromise in his previous job as the president’s homeland security secretary, began consulting with Republican lawmakers and staff members for a quick fix, according to three officials familiar with the situation.
A lot of people online were debating all week about what Trump "really wanted" to do about DACA, with many coming down on the view that he wanted to kill the program so he wouldn't be seen as a liar and promise breaker, but the thing is that he killed it he'd still be seen as a liar and promise breaker. He'd be lying and reneging in either direction, as is his usual way. And I think as far as his mental capacity allows, he was really personally on both sides of the issue: he believes what they said on Fox about Obama's original 2012 action being an extreme example of unconstitutional tyranny, and he also believes whoever told him he "loves" the Dreamers, because of course he does. Kelly gave him a way of getting on Fox as a heroic program-killer when he's actually kicking the can over to Capitol Hill and letting them do the actual governing, and that's what the Emperor likes best. And have Sessions announce it, not taking reporters' questions, instead of himself.

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