A Decade Later: How DACA Eroded the Rule of Law in America

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Opinion

William Davis

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Posted: Jul 07, 2022 12:01 AM

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Ten years ago last month, President Barack Obama launched the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a benefits program for illegal aliens who were brought to the U.S. as minors. A decade later, the damage DACA has done to the country and the rule of law is clear.

The DACA program currently shields over 800,000 illegal aliens and rewards them with perks typically reserved for American citizens, including driver’s licenses and social security numbers. The creation of DACA further polarized the immigration debate in the U.S., and started an anti-borders project that threatens to bring the U.S. to its knees. 

Right now, America is dealing with a crisis of historic proportions on our border. In the first year of Joe Biden’s administration, the U.S. allowed roughly one million illegal aliens to cross our border at a taxpayer expense of $10 billion, according to an analysis from the Federation for American Immigration Reform. During that time period, we’ve seen a record surge in fentanyl crossing the border, which has killed tens of thousands of Americans, as well as a record number of migrant deaths. All of this would have been unthinkable ten years ago, and all of it became possible because of the slippery slope of lawlessness the country has been riding since the creation of DACA.

Just nine months before creating DACA, Obama acknowledged that he didn’t have the power to do so. 

“I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true,” Obama said at the time.

Obama had long advocated for amnesty, but appeared to understand that he didn’t have the authority to do so by executive fiat. That all changed with DACA, and led to the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) just two years later. DAPA extended the legal protections and benefits in DACA to certain parents of illegal aliens. DAPA and DACA served as a one-two punch against the rule of law, rewarding millions of illegal aliens with amnesty without an act of Congress. 

Around that same time period, the number of cities and counties designating themselves as sanctuaries for illegal aliens exploded. While sanctuary cities existed long before 2014, a map of sanctuary counties shows that the number of sanctuaries spiked in 2014, and continued to increase during the Trump Administration as liberal jurisdictions ferociously pushed back against the administration’s enforcement policies. 

While politicians in both parties had advocated amnesty for decades, no previous president had tried to force through amnesty using executive action when they didn’t have the votes in Congress. By enacting DACA, despite admitting he lacked the authority to do so, Obama crossed a line, and set the stage for the Biden Administration’s lawlessness. 

DACA represented the first major step in a long-term strategy to erase America’s borders and end our nation’s sovereignty. It’s unsurprising that the anti-borders movement chose DACA as their first frontier, given the sympathetic nature of some of the program’s beneficiaries. 

“Think of the children!” is a useful rallying cry for any political movement, and the anti-borders movement is no different. Activists love to showcase DACA recipients who go on to be valedictorians or have great careers as examples of why the U.S. should provide a blanket amnesty for all of the program’s recipients. 

What these advocates routinely fail to mention is that just 22 percent of DACA recipients have earned a college degree. A significant number of DACA recipients have also become involved with gangs, and gone on to live lives of crimes. In 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acknowledged that nearly 1,500 DACA recipients had their status revoked for committing crime, including over 500 for gang-related activities. Even if every DACA recipient was a valedictorian who went on to have a great career, that still would not justify rewarding millions of people in the country illegally with amnesty through unilateral executive action.

Lawlessness only begets more lawlessness, and there is no greater example of that reality than DACA. If one wants to understand how illegal immigration became normalized in the U.S., they only have to go back ten years to see how anti-borders activists used sympathetic children as pawns for a larger, more insidious agenda. 

William J. Davis is a communications associate for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.