Don’t blame Jeh Johnson. It’s not his fault. As Homeland Security Secretary overseeing Obama’s absurdly reckless immigration policies Johnson is tasked with an impossible, even offensive job. He has to justify DACA to everyone from oversight-obsessed senators to the president to the American people. He has to explain how his agency is doing everything imaginable to make this Oval Office abomination work. We should give Johnson a pass. He’s just doing his job.
What has John Boehner done for us lately?
Republicans stalled on DACA, or finished with it?
Citizenship and Immigration Services is making it clear that despite Obama’s expanded DACA and DAPA programs being halted, the original program is alive and well. Nothing has changed. Applications and renewals are being processed.
Why, Mr. Boehner?
The House Speaker declared that “22 Times President Obama Said He Couldn’t Ignore or Create His Own Immigration Law.”1 His press office announced that “President Obama’s Actions Undermine Border Security, Let Criminals Go Free.”2 He hasn’t done much about these charges except talk, despite revelations of what can happen when our president does foolish things he shouldn’t be allowed to do, like granting DACA amnesty to gang members:
[DHS Secretary] Johnson also noted that a “handful” of similar cases have occurred, in which gang members or other criminals have been shielded by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order. USCIS stated that since fiscal year 2013, at least 282 such cases have occurred.3
Republicans buckled on defunding Obama’s wayward acts. Now the leadership seems content to stand down and let DACA continue in the background unseen and forgotten, an Obama victory we were told was only temporary.
The courts blocked further action by Obama. Boehner did nothing. DACA is still with us.
Two DACA lies the GOP decided to live with
The White House referred to it as “Deferred Action Process for Certain Young People: Smart and Sensible Immigration Policy.”4 “Young people” turned out to be a misnomer. Figures released last year showed that of the 514,800 requests approved through September 2013, 254,100 were for illegals over the age of 20 years. 85,100 fell into the 25 to over 30 age group.5
It turns out “temporary” didn’t mean quite what we thought, either, despite these words from President Obama:
Now, let’s be clear — this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.6
We misunderstood Mr. Obama. “Temporary” apparently meant something that would never go away without the broader congressional grant of amnesty the president wanted. Shame on us. Any idiot should know what temporary means in government.
Did Boehner misunderstand, too, or are Republicans too afraid of offending to right this wrong?
Find a way to cancel DACA or lose your last shred of credibility, Mr. Speaker
Why is DACA still going strong with no push from Capitol Hill to cancel it? The most recent numbers from USCIS show that 148,171 DACA renewals have already been approved, with 86,749 pending and a scant 71 rejected7
What is so amazing about John Boehner is that he can buckle on almost everything he promises action on, from spending cuts, to defunding DACA, to suing the president, to repealing Obamacare, and still have enough credibility with Republicans to hold onto his position. We shouldn’t blame Boehner for not being able to do the impossible. We should hold his feet to the fire for flapping his lips and not delivering.
Republicans must find a way to cancel DACA. No more renewals. No more applications for temporary amnesty. The courts may block the expansion, no thanks to Boehner, but that doesn’t solve the problem of the temporary grants we’ve already passed out. As the most offensive, egregious overreach to date by this president, DACA is the chance for the Republican leadership to show whether it will do anything but conspire with its Democratic colleagues on immigration. If you have any tricks up your sleeve, Mr. Boehner, we’re still waiting.
UPDATE May 26, 2015: The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals just said no to Obama’s executive actions to expand DACA and begin the DAPA amnesty program. Time for Republicans to get moving before we risk a pro-Obama Supreme Court decision.
UPDATE December 13, 2016: This was originally published May 3, 2015. Since then Donald Trump has taken over. Republicans still dominate Capitol Hill. Don’t expect DACA to be halted anytime soon. John Boehner is long gone, but cancelling one of Obama’s greatest victories is still more than the party is going to risk.