U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it his mission to deny legal status to young undocumented immigrants who gained entry into the country as children. On Tuesday, he announced the Trump administration's plan to overturn a policy protecting such people. These quotes from Jeff Session's DACA speech show that he is willing to go after the children of immigrants in order to enforce a previously overlooked law.
President Barack Obama implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in 2012 in order to allow the children of immigrants to defer deportation in order to live, work, and study in the U.S. According to The Guardian, DACA applicants undergo background checks for national security and criminal history reasons. Once they pass this vetting process, their deportation is deferred for two years. They also have the option to renew the deferment and benefit from basic privileges such as drivers licenses, college enrollment, and work permits.
Those protected by DACA are referred to as "DREAMers" and there are currently almost 800,000 people in that category, according to CNN. These people have gone on to study at American universities, work for American businesses, and even serve in the U.S. military. Despite their many contributions, the Trump administration plans to do away with their protection, calling Obama's order "unconstitutional." Sessions spoke on the issue on Tuesday promising "an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA."
Within his statement on Tuesday, Sessions made a number of comments that have caused people to criticize his lack of compassion for the DREAMers. In regard to the young people who came to the country for a chance at a better life, Sessions stated that their entry has negatively impacted the U.S. (which is not true):
The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences. It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.
Sessions also commented on the constitutional "rule of law" and the need for impartiality (an impartiality that would have not granted entrance to many of the Americans whose ancestors came to the U.S. seeking a better life):
No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed. Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty, and human suffering.
It is important to note that many constitutional freedoms are subject to personal biases, such as religious freedom and the right to bear arms. The children protected by DACA have been thoroughly vetted and have grown up alongside American citizens. They have grown accustomed to life in the U.S. and the protection of their futures goes beyond simple "personal biases."
As support for his claim that the policy was unconstitutional, Sessions pointed to the unilateral nature of Obama's decision and Congress's rejection of DACA. Rather than defend the rights of those protected by DACA, the Trump administration appears to be focused on righting perceived wrongs by the previous leadership, according to Sessions:
Simply put, if we are to further our goal of strengthening the constitutional order and the rule of law in America, the Department of Justice cannot defend this type of overreach.
Sessions's comments are crass and cold when compared to the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers facing a loss of their way of life. As they all would have had to come to the U.S. as children, they likely know no other home. The loss of DACA would mean the loss of an entire population of Americans — because that's what DREAMers are.