HIRSCHFELD: DACA as a constitutional dilemma

The goal of DACA is worthy of support, but the policy should be enshrined in law by an act of Congress, rather than unconstitutionally imposed by executive order


When President Obama could not find success in passing immigration reform through Congress, he opted for executive action.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons | Cavalier Daily

The debate over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, must be one of constitutionality, not one of emotion and certainly not one of racism. Calling President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind DACA an attack on minorities is not only wrong, it's dangerous. President Trump has continually signaled his willingness to sign something similar to the DREAM Act. It’s wrong to ignore facts to score emotional points.

The argument is simple: We must repeal DACA in order to refrain from setting a perilous precedent. President Barack Obama himself said time and time again that he could not write laws and Congress would have to address DREAMers. Then, when Congress didn't pass the DREAM Act, President Obama took it upon himself to write the law anyway and, thus, DACA was born. He circumvented the legislative process and wrote a law himself via executive order. That is simply not right.

Liberal friends, think of it this way: if we allow President Obama to get away with blatantly circumventing the legislative process, we open up the floodgates to similar actions by President Trump, and every single president to follow, regardless of your opinion on the appropriateness of their action.

That said, I’ve heard many refer to it as “just precedent.” It’s not “just precedent,” the weight of our entire American experiment hangs in the balance. If we allow one man to have unilateral authority over the legislating process, we forfeit checks and balances, void the Constitution, and soon enough we find ourselves in an absolute monarchy.

Putting it into perspective, we have to understand that freedom exists because of the Constitution. Our Founding Fathers put their lives on the line in to gain independence from a tyrannical monarchy so that they could in turn give us this very Constitution 13 years later.

I will be the first to say that my life is not more valuable than the Constitution. My life is not more valuable than the preservation of freedom for over 330 million Americans. The amount of lives saved or bettered by these timeless document is incalculable. Without the Constitution, there is no America. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan: without America, true freedom is eradicated from the face of the Earth. For that reason, I don't want to even imagine a world without America. Nothing I could ever do or say will ever be as beneficial to the world as the U.S. Constitution. 

For 228 years, the United States has prided itself on being a global force for good. It is nothing short of ludicrous to say that any policy is worth sacrificing this document that has brought so much good for so many people. To put it differently: If we destroy the country which undocumented immigrants have fled to, are we really doing them a service? Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to adhere to the principles that made America a desirable country to come to in the first place?

For those who say that it doesn’t matter how it came about, DACA was “the right thing to do,” there’s a critically important lingering question. If you're willing to allow President Obama to trample the constitution for this, are you willing to allow President Trump to do the same for any issue he sees as "the right thing to do?”

Make no mistake, the cause of the DREAM Act is a benevolent one. Personally, I'm pro-immigration; my family came here legally in the late 1800s and I'm grateful they did. However, illegal immigration is another case entirely. We have laws, so let's reward those who respect them by welcoming them before those who disregard them. 

That being said, those who would qualify as "DREAMers," did not have a say in their parents disregard for our laws, and therefore it is unfair to blame them. If my relatives had come here illegally in the late 1800s, no one would be saying it was my fault they did so. This is why I, and President Trump, agree with the goal of the DREAM Act. 

If you’re like me, and want “DREAMers” to stay, then stop defending a weak, unconstitutional executive order and start asking your representative to reintroduce the DREAM Act. President Trump already expressed his willingness to sign such bill.

This isn't about the emotions, racism or even the undocumented immigrants themselves — this is about protecting the document which has given us the greatest gift in all of history: The United States of America. Without that document, we wouldn't even be here having this debate. So let's repeal DACA, pass a bill similar to the DREAM Act and never again allow a president to write a law when Congress won't pass one. This country is too great to destroy for any one policy.

Tanner B. Hirschfeld is a second-year in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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