DACA has always been more trouble than it’s worth

Donald Trump has made politics less rational and more reflexive.

If he supports something, his backers will say that they also support it — even if they would normally oppose it. Consider the Trumpsters who call themselves conservatives but now support tariffs and trade barriers.

In the same way, if the president ends a program, his opponents want it back — even if that program is flawed, problematic and not in the best interests of the people it is supposed to help.

More and more these days, no one really stops to think about how they feel about anything. What matters most is how they feel about Trump. The rest evolves naturally from there.

For instance, in September 2017, Trump announced the end to a controversial Obama-era program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

As to whether Trump had the power to do so, federal judges are of mixed minds.

Recently, in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Judge John Bates issued an injunction on the attempt to end DACA and ordered the administration to once again start accepting applications. But Bates delayed his own order until Aug. 23, which gave the administration time to begin the process of appealing the ruling.

Meanwhile, another judge seems to be intent on ending DACA. In the Southern District of Texas, Judge Andrew Hanen previously struck down the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which afforded legal protection to the undocumented parents of U.S.-born children. More recently, he heard arguments from 10 states seeking a nationwide injunction against DACA because they claim it is unconstitutional. Hanen didn’t issue an immediate ruling but he is considering the request.

Any way you slice it, the legal fate of DACA seems to be headed for the Supreme Court.

Having skipped law school, I can’t give you a legal opinion about DACA. But here’s a logical one. If Democrats argue that Trump doesn’t have the authority to end the program, it becomes very difficult for them to argue that President Barack Obama had the authority to launch it.

At the same time, DACA’s defenders face a different question: whether the program is even worth fighting for in the first place.

I’ll spare you the suspense: It isn’t.

DACA was always an empty gesture, a sorry excuse for the comprehensive immigration-reform solution Obama should have come up with. As a pro-labor Democrat who was sympathetic to claims that employers use illegal immigrants to deny jobs to working-class Americans, legalizing the undocumented was never going to be Obama’s cause. He just fooled a lot of people on the left into thinking he cared about what happened to the undocumented, even as he was deporting about 3 million of them.

Still, Obama needed a tool to patch up his relationship with Latino voters during his 2012 re-election campaign. So Obama took the easy way out instead of working with Congress to pass a catch-all immigration reform bill that secured the border, provided guest workers for employers and legalized undocumented immigrants. He simply issued an executive action that gave young people who were brought here as children by their parents (so-called Dreamers) a two-year reprieve from deportation and a temporary work permit.

But what the executive branch giveth, the executive branch can taketh away.And that’s just what the Trump administration did. Worse, Trump now has — thank you, Obama — the personal information of the nearly 700,000 Dreamers who agreed to this Faustian bargain because they believed the people from the government when they said they had come to help them. How well would you sleep at night if you and other members of your family are undocumented and know that Trump is president and has access to all of your information?

DACA offers false hope, and it puts in peril the very group that it sought to protect. It also acts as a pressure valve to make members of Congress comfortable with doing nothing to fix the main problem — the fact that an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants are living in the United States.

Truth is, DACA has always been more trouble than it’s worth. It was a bad idea, and it was proposed by people with bad intentions. So, if the courts decide to back the White House and end it, good riddance.

— Ruben Navarrette is a syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group.